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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Ernst Barlach (German, 1870-1938): Woodcuts for Der Kopf II

Barlach / Barlach 2 / Barlach 3 / Barlach 4 / Barlach 5
German Expressionism: People / Lovers /Social Interaction

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" features over forty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Ernst Barlach, Max Beckmann, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix, Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel, Hannah Hoch, Karl Hofer, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Edvard Munch, Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault, Rudolf Schlichter, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.
In 1919 Barlach made 10 woodcuts to illustrate Der Kopf / The Head, a poem by Reinhold von Walther. The work, published by Paul Cassirer in Berlin in 1919, was issued in an edition of 200 with the woodcuts bound. There was also a suite of 20 portfolios containing the woodcuts printed on japon paper and signed on the lower right of each sheet. Each portfolio was signed on the justification page by the poet and the artist as well. Finally, also in 1919, Cassirer and Barlach produced a larger edition printed on zinc plates made from the woodcuts. Our impressions come from this final edition. The poem tells the story of how the beggars revolted against their poverty and the injustice of the rich and under the rule of a legless beggar (their "Head") established their own government. Alas, it quickly shows itself as unjust the one it replaced, thus anticipating Orwell's Animal Farm.
Die Verstossenen The outcasts (Davis-Rifkind 96:6, Schulte 107). Original woodcut for Der Kopf (1919). 20 signed impressions on japon, 200 impressions on wove from the woodblocks, and a larger edition printed from zinc plates made under Barlach's supervision from his woodblocks from which our impression comes. Image size: 140x140mm. Price: $850.
Russische Bettlerin / Russian Beggarwoman (Davis-Rifkind 96:7, Schulte 108). Original woodcut for Der Kopf (1919). 20 signed impressions on japon, 200 impressions on wove from the woodblocks, and a larger edition printed from zinc plates made under Barlach's supervision from his woodblocks from which our impression comes. Barlach's image may well have contributed to Gunther Grass's description of Oskar's Polish grandmother in The Tin Drum. Illustrated A Breadth of Vision: The Ritz Collecetion (Milwaukee Art Museum, 1992), p. 32. Image size: 102x79mm. Price: $850.
Knieende Bettlerin / Kneeling beggar woman The Olde Beggarwoman (Davis-Rifkind 96:9, Schulte 110). Original woodcut for Der Kopf (1919). 20 signed impressions on japon, 200 impressions on wove from the woodblocks, and a larger edition printed from zinc plates made under Barlach's supervision from his woodblocks from which our impression comes. Image size: 101x78mm. Price: $850.
Unrtergang / Ruin (Davis-Rifkind 96:10, Schulte 111). Original woodcut for Der Kopf (1919). 20 signed impressions on japon, 200 impressions on wove from the woodblocks, and a larger edition printed from zinc plates made under Barlach's supervision from his woodblocks from which our impression comes. The image recalls various 16th-century German woodcuts depicted the Agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene when Peter, James, and John could not stay awake while jesus prayed that the cup of death might pass him by. Image size: 145x130mm. Price: $850.

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