Ernst Barlach

German (1870 - 1938)
Ernst Barlach Schreitende Frau or Schreitende Nonne [Walking Woman or Walking Nun] 1909


Born 1870
Died 1938
Nationality German

Born near Hamburg, Barlach was a sculptor, printmaker and writer. From around 1896, he worked in an art nouveau style. However, after visiting his brother in Russia in 1906, he was struck by the solid and sturdy figures of the Russian peasants. Inspired by this and by medieval German carving, Barlach developed his own figure style. He made his first wooden sculptures in 1907. Although associated with the expressionist artists, Barlach stands slightly apart from them: he rarely distorted the human body beyond simplifying it.

Glossary terms

  • Or Entartete Kunst. Term coined in the 1930s by the Nazis in Germany to ridicule modern art that didn't fit with Hitler's vision. Exhibitions of such works confiscated from German museums were staged and German artists branded with the term were banned from exhibiting their work.

  • A print made from an image carved into a block of wood cut along the grain. Blank areas are cut away leaving an image in relief from which a print is made.

  • A style that made an impact in the arts in the 1920s, particularly in Germany. Expressionists deliberately abandoned realistic representation techniques in favour of exaggerations and distortions of line and colour that were intended to carry far greater emotional impact.