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  • Ernst Barlach
Das schlimme Jahr 1937 [The Terrible Year 1937]
© Ernst Barlach Lizenzverwaltung Ratzeburg

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Das schlimme Jahr 1937 [The Terrible Year 1937] 1936

Not on display

This sculpture is the only wood carving by Barlach in a public collection in Britain. Although carved in 1936, it was given its allegorical title the following year in response to Hitler's notorious Degenerate 'Art' exhibition, in which Barlach was included. By the summer of 1937, nearly 400 of his works had been confiscated, through government action, from German museums. This work is typical of the figures Barlach sculpted: large, heavily robed figures alone or in pairs, symbolising an aspect of the human condition.

Glossary Open

Degenerate 'Art'

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.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Degenerate 'Art', Symbolism


  • Acc. No. GMA 3036
  • Medium Wood (oak)
  • Size 142.00 x 31.00 x 28.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund (William Leng Bequest) 1987