Ernst Barlach Biography

Ernst Barlach





The northern German sculptor and graphic artist Ernst Barlach began his professional education in Hamburg. In 1888 Berlach attended a vocational school. In 1891 the artist attended the Dresden 'Akademie', where he continued to study sculpture and became Robert Diez's master student. During two study trips to Paris in 1895 and 1897 Barlach's well-founded academic training was reinforced. His artistic work was influenced greatly by a trip to Russia in 1906. The powerful and folk-like design of Barlach's sculptures after this time reflect the impressions of rugged farm-life and Russian folk art. During these years Barlach also produced graphic illustration cycles for his own plays. In 1910 Ernst Barlach settled in Güstrow (Mecklenburg), Germany. In 1917 Barlach had his first exhibition at Paul Cassirer's in Berlin.
In 1919 the sculptor was admitted to the 'Preußische Akademie der Künste' in Berlin as a full member. During the following years Barlach produced numerous wood carvings, including one on Goethe's 'Walpurgisnacht'. In 1928 Barlach published his autobiography entitled 'Ein selbsterzähltes Leben' ('A Selftold Life'). In 1930 a comprehensive exhibition of Barlach's sculptures and graphic works took place at the 'Preussische Akademie der Künste' in Berlin. In 1933 the artist received the order 'Pour le mérité'. In 1935, commission by Hermann F. Reemtsma, Barlach designed the 'Fries der Lauschenden' and a tombstone for Theodor Däubler. During the years that followed, the sculptor was ostracized by the Nazis. In 1936 Barlach's works were systematically removed from museums, churches, and public spaces.
Today, Ernst Barlach is known as one of the most important sculptors of Classical Modernism. Excellent examples of his expressionist wood and bronze sculptures can now be seen at the Güstrow Cathedral, the Elisabeth Church in Marburg and the Berlin National Gallery. Ernst Barlach's home and studio in Güstrow is now open to the public as a museum.