Ernst Barlach: Life in Work

Ernst Barlach: Life in Work

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Ernst Barlach
Life in Work

Sculpture, Drawings and Graphics. Dramas, Prose Works and Letters in Translation
Edited and Introduced by Naomi Jackson Groves

8 X 10 inches, 127 pages
121 b&w reproductions

Ernst Barlach Drama & Artist Series

WELL KNOWN INTERNATIONALLY AS A SCULPTOR, the North German artist Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) is here revealed as an outstanding writer as well, being accepted already as such in German literary circles. Barlach's witings—early stories, later dramas and novels, diaries and letters—are presented alongside his drawings, woodcuts, and lithographs, his first clay working models alongside the later completed sculpture in wood, bronze, or other medium. No other single book on the multi-gifted artist reveals as fully and objectively the creative unity of spirit behind the interplay of his many forms of expression. With few exceptions, all major works are included (many perforce in excerpt), and several of these appear here for the first time in book form. Just as fully as the period of Barlach's maturity, this volume also stresses the formative years of the artist with the 'thinking eye'.

Despite his penchant for solitary off-sidedness, Barlach's influence on the later German Expressionists is such that there are now five permanent centres in Germany devoted to his work.

Yet when Naomi Jackson Groves visited Germany in 1936 and 1937 while on a travelling fellowship from the Canadian Federation of Women in order to explore cases of creative versatility, she discovered her first Barlachs painfully difficult of access. For in these years Barlach was branded by the Nazis as a "cultural Bolshevik." He was not allowed to show his works and endured his final misery in his Heidberg studio outside the town of Güstrow in Mecklenburg. No personal meeting took place, but from that time forth Naomi Jackson Groves held true to the artist she considered the greatest of the "multi-gifted" of the twentieth century.


Naomi Jackson Groves


Editor, Introduction

Naomi Jackson Groves has been a boon to Penumbra Press, helping to shape Penumbra's sensibility, while proffering an oeuvre that shows remarkable range. As a diarist, opening up the diaries from her youth abroad exploring the intellectual and artistic life of Europe in the 1930's and 1940's. As the author or editor of books about her uncle, Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson. ("A courageous little cuss" is how her uncle sized her up, after her wartime travel in waters infested by German submarines.) As the translator of works by Greenland artist and author, Jens Rosing. As the generous spirit encouraging several other Penumbra projects off the ground. She is renowned for her critical writing and translations of German sculptor and dramatist Ernst Barlach.

Naomi Jackson Groves specialized in German and northern languages. Born in Montreal in 1910, she would graduate from McGill University with a B.A. in 1933 and an M.A. in 1935, from Radcliffe College in 1937, and from Harvard with a Ph.D. in 1950. In addition to teaching German at McGill and Carleton Universities, she re-established and headed the Fine Arts Department at McMaster University (1951-57). Active into her tenth decade, she passed away in December of 2001.

Remembering Naomi Jackson Groves ...

Ernst Barlach


Author, Artist

Master of both visual and verbal creations but better known at first for his sculpture in ceramics and in wood, Barlach also wrote eight plays. All have become increasingly appreciated and performed, first in German-speaking countries, later in translation with many interpretations.

Further publications in the Barlach-in-translation series by Penumbra Press will include the remaining dramas, two novels, and some short, miscellaneous prose pieces. With five Barlach museums in Germany, frequent presentation of his plays, a new complete edition of his works being planned, Ernst Barlach (the Doubly-gifted) continues to thrive—and long may he last.

(Self Portrait, 1895: Copyright Ernst Barlach Lizenzverwaltung Ratzeburg)

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