Have mercy on Barlach

Have mercy on Barlach
Have mercy on Barlach

This sculpture was made by the German artist Ernst Barlach (1870 – 1938) in a material as poor as plaster throughout the year 1919.

This is an excellent example of expressionist art created by this artist. In those years, the expressionist movement triumphed resoundingly among the creators of Germany, which did not mean that there was not a part of the public that hated this art both for its forms and its messages. There were German artists or not, like Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka or Vassily Kandinsky, whose painting would evolve towards abstraction, who came to be truly abhorred by the criticism. This increased with the rise to power of the National Socialist Party.

Have mercy by Ernst Barlach

Have mercy on Ernst Barlach

In fact, the authorities during the mandate of Adolf Hitler decided to condemn everything that smacked of modern art and ended up banishing the most outstanding figures of the avant-garde movements or simply prohibited them from working. And that's what happened to Barlach.

Although the dates of this work predate the government of the Nazis, the sculpture is like an anticipation of what this artist would suffer in later years. Just knowing the title, Have mercy, we can already get an idea of ​​the intended messagetransmit.

But even if it didn't have a title, the figure really manages to claim its message, thanks to the enormous intensity of its expression, and that in reality you simply only see a few gnarled hands that ask for alms. They are supposed to be the hands of a beggar, whose body and head are covered by a blanket, as a shame or simply to protect herself from the cold. In this way, all our vision is concentrated in those hands that ask. The rest is like a lump, but not a shapeless lump. We can intuit the body of that human being. What's more, we know that it is there, despite its simplicity of form, but we concentrate on the hands, we imagine the poor woman and it completely transmits that feeling of compassion to us. In short, Expressionism in its purest form.

In this line, Ernst Barlach made several works, and not only sculptural, since he also worked as a designer and as a writer. He was always interested in the most human subjects with dramatic touches. For example, he made several memorials to the victims of theWorld War I, whether they were soldiers or their mothers. All of them monuments with a strong expressive and dramatic charge. Interestingly, with the Nazi coming to power in 1933, some of these works were removed from their locations and even destroyed. However, some of them were relocated and restored after 1945, with the end of the World War II, as is the case of the Memorials to the Fallenyou made in the cities of Kiel, Magdeburg orat the Güstrow Cathedral.

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