About this artwork

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.

  • title: Das schlimme Jahr 1937 [The Terrible Year 1937]
  • accession number: GMA 3036
  • artist: Ernst BarlachGerman (1870 - 1938)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Sculpture
  • subject: World Wars Emotions
  • date created: 1936
  • measurements: 142.00 x 31.00 x 28.50 cm
  • credit line: Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund (William Leng Bequest) 1987
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Ernst Barlach

Ernst Barlach

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.