Ernst Barlach - Kopfstudie (Head Study), 1922

Bronze

6 x 6 x 7 cm
2 x 2 x 2 inch

Signed "EBarlach” on the right side of the neck
Caster stamp on the left side of the throat “H.  NOACK BERLIN"

N 9438

13,800 €

About the work

Barlach is considered one of the most important German sculptors of Expressionism, and yet his figures demonstrate no clear emotions in the sense of extroverted physiognomies. The expressive power of his portraits instead originates much more from a distanced, introverted posture. It is particularly through the representation of this introspection that the figures acquire their incomparable expressiveness. The "Kopfstudie" of this young woman with tied back hair demonstrates a deep sense of introspection. While the face is rather simple in terms of pure physiognomy, it is precisely this simplicity that expresses an all the more powerful and unfathomably deep spirituality. The reduction in the gesture lends the representation a deep sense of peace, which, however, has nothing lethargic about it or anything that might seem even fatalistic. It conveys an expression of contemplation. The spirit has completely turned away from the irrelevances of everyday life in order to delve into the experience of the higher whole. According to the catalogue raisonné, this “Kopfstudie“
is closely related to Barlach’s “Frau mit den untergeschlagenen Armen (Woman With Crossed Arms)” (catalogue raisonné 341), which shows a young woman with her arms crossed over her chest. This posture is perceived as protective or distancing, which further emphasises the distance of the figure represented from its surroundings and its seclusion. This is also apparent in the “Kopfstudie”.
In a letter from the archive of the Ernst Barlach Haus in Hamburg, which the artist sent to the Lübeck literary scholar Fritz Endres at the beginning of 1924, he revealed his thoughts about art. These might also apply to the “Kopfstudie”: “I might say that my recurring motif is the humanity of God: the constantly renewed establishing of the human situation, as a process between Heaven and Earth, a mixture of desperation and comfort. (...) I feel very deeply and with conviction that art speaks of eternal things in an excessively reasonable, excessively logical language, when it is in fact art and nothing but art that is present.”
(cited from: Karsten Müller erklärt die “Weinende Frau” von Ernst Barlach, Hamburger Abendblatt of 24.11.2015

Text authored and provided by Dr Andrea Fink, art historian

The art historian, curator and freelance publicist Andrea Fink studied art history, cultural studies and humanities, modern history and philosophy in Bochum and Vienna. Doctorate in 2007 on the work of the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. As a freelance curator and art consultant, her clients include, among others, the Kunstverein (art association) Ahlen, Kunstverein Soest, Wella Museum, Museum am Ostwall Dortmund, ThyssenKrupp AG, Kulturstiftung Ruhr, Osthaus Museum Hagen, Franz Haniel GmbH, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria.

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Ernst Barlach, Head Study, 1922, 6 x 6 x 7 cm, N 9438
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