Portrait of the artist Ernst Barlach

Ernst Barlach

1870-1938, sculptor, writer and draughtsman

Ernst Barlach was born on 2 January 1870 in Wedel, Germany, and died on 24 October 1938 in Rostock, Germany. He holds an outstandingly special position within German Expressionism. As a graphic artist, draughtsman, writer and, in particular, a sculptor, Barlach created milestones in art history. Barlach's sculptural works of art have a special effect because they seek extreme experience and its representation. They are works of multi-layered meaning with which he foregrounded the essence of the human being and that what stands above the self and the world.

Barlach's intention is rooted in the depths, the inner self. Influenced by war and difficult living conditions, he experiences both suffering and happiness. The human being is always the focus of his work: Ecce homo.

"I desire nothing more than to be a bad artist as best I can. I believe that what cannot be expressed through the work can pass into the possession of another through forms. Again and again my desire and urge to create revolves around the problems of the meaning of life and the other great mountains in the spiritual realm." (Ernst Barlach)

Ernst Barlach became an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, in 1925. In 1933 he is appointed Knight of the Peace Class of the Order "Pour le mérite". In 1937 the National Socialists remove his works from public collections and spaces for being "degenerate art". Ernst Barlach died in Rostock on 24 October 1938.

Today, Ernst Barlach's works are an integral part of leading museums and collections and - if available - fetch record amounts at auction.

"Der singende Mann" (The Singing Man) became Ernst Barlach's best-known sculpture, an icon of modernism. It adorns illustrated books and posters worldwide, and the original edition is a permanent fixture in the collections of the world's greatest museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

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