Ernst Barlach:
Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery Student)" (1931), reduction in bronze
Ernst Barlach:
Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery Student)" (1931), reduction in bronze

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ars mundi Exclusive Edition | limited, 980 copies | bronze | patinated | numbered | signature | foundry stamp | certificate | reduction | size 7.5 x 33 x 5 cm (w/h/d) | weight 2.2 kg

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Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery Student)" (1931), reduction in bronze
Ernst Barlach: Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery S...


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Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery Student)" (1931), reduction in bronze

Ernst Barlach's "Community of Saints": Symbols of Human Existence

Ernst Barlach was highly respected as a writer and sculptor of figurative sculptures until the 1930s. In 1925, he became an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. During this period, he also created various monumental memorials that were to become world-famous (including the "Güstrow Memorial", and the famous "Floating Angel" located in Güstrow Cathedral). In 1934, however, the tables had turned. When Barlach was in his sixties, the Nazis denounced his works as "degenerate" and removed them from the museums. The monuments he created were destroyed. The "Floating Angel" located in the Güstrow Cathedral was even melted down - and if friends had not hidden a second copy until the end of the war, the work would be lost today.

The fate of the sculptures "Woman in the Wind" and "The Singer" were similar. They were confiscated along with around 380 other works by Barlach. Their saviour was also their client: Carl Georg Heise, a museum director in Lübeck. He had encouraged Barlach in 1929 to design a sculpture ensemble with the title "Community of Saints" for the west façade of St. Catherine's Church in Lübeck. There were to be 16, but only three were realised between 1930 and 1932 ("The Beggar", "The Singer" and "The Woman in the Wind"). Three other figures: "The Bound", "The Pilgrim" and "The Hornblower" have been preserved in preliminary models. Carl Georg Heise was dismissed in 1933 but claimed the existing three figures as private property. In 1939, the year after Barlach's death, they were handed over to him, and so they survived the war period "in boxes [...] under the veranda in my mother-in-law's house," he later reported. It was not until 1947 that they finally found their way into the designated niches of St Catherine's Church.

The spatial effect of the Gothic church and the narrowness of the niches as a place of installation determined Barlach's ideas about form. The proximity to medieval sculpture is unmistakable. However, Barlach did not create figures of saints in Christian iconography. He rather created symbols of human existence, and human figures turned towards the world, "suffering and transfigured, each in his way struggling with his God" (Carl Georg Heise).

Sculpture "The Singer (Singing Monastery Student)":
The young monk raises his voice in an upright position and with a sheet of music notes in his hands. The main focus is on the singer's face revealing concentration and dedication, to God or the divine power of music. Bronze after a scaled-down model from 1931. Cast by hand using the Lost-Wax-Process and patinated. Limited edition of 980 copies, individually numbered and with the signature "E. Barlach" taken from the original as well as the foundry hallmark. ars mundi Exclusive Edition, published in cooperation with the Ernst Barlach Society. With numbered certificate of authenticity and limitation. Size 7.5 x 33 x 5 cm (w/h/d), weight 2.2 kg.

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Portrait of the artist Ernst Barlach

About Ernst Barlach

1870-1938, sculptor, writer and draughtsman

Ernst Barlach was born on January 2, 1870, in Wedel, Germany, and died on October 24, 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 of limits and their 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. Shaped by war and challenging 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 good and true artist as best I can. I believe that what cannot be expressed through the work can pass into the possession of another through forms. My pleasure and creative impulse continually revolve 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 was appointed Knight of the Peace Class of the Order "Pour le mérite". In 1937, the National Socialists removed his works from public collections and spaces for being "degenerate art". Ernst Barlach died in Rostock on October 24, 1938.

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

"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 part of the collections of the world's major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.