On the occasion of his 150th birthday
In 2020, the Museum of Art and Cultural History marks the 150th birthday of the distinguished North German artist Ernst Barlach with an exclusive showcase exhibition. Some forty sketches, prints and sculpture from all phases of his works are shown, imparting an impressive picture of this fascinating individualist’s accomplishments amongst the expressionists.
The artist’s famous vividly bleak self-portraits as well as the touching work with which Barlach developed his expression of mass death during World War 1 and the times of distress of the post-war years, which are still valid today, can be seen.
Last but not least, the artist who died in 1938 was defamed by the National Socialists because of these works and imposed with an exhibition ban. Also, several of his public art works were destroyed by the NS regime. Ernst Barlach’s works were only again publicly acclaimed widely in the Federal Republic of Germany – and also in the GDR – after his death.
In the meantime, several of his pictorial inventions – for example “Lesende Klosterschüler” [Convent school pupils reading] from 1930 – have long since entered the visual memory of the general public. All the works in the special exhibition originate from the Dr. Hans-Joachim and Elisabeth Bönsch Art Foundation, which has had long-term connections with the Museum of Art and Cultural History since 2016.
The State Museum has supported this artist particularly for several decades. This already started during the 1930s with the efforts by the former Museum Director to rescue the Kiel “Geistkämpfer” [Phantom campaigner] memorial, which has been housed in the State Museum in the meantime.
After World War 2, the Schloss Gottorf museum continued to support the artist born in Wedel/Holstein. The State Museum has owned a recast of the worldwide renowned bronze “Der Schwebende” [Floating angel] since 1987. Together with the exhibits from the Rolf Horn Foundation, this floating angel provides the centrepiece of an outstanding Barlach section in the Gottorf "Galerie der klassischen Moderne” [Gallery of classical modernism].
This permanent exhibition will now be enhanced by the current special exhibition, which places a special focus on Barlach as a graphic artist in the Barlach year 2020.