Der Erste Tag, from the series 'The Transformations of God'Artist(s)Ernst BarlachArtist NationalityGerman (culture or style)Object Creation Date1920Medium & Supportwoodcut on paperDimensions
12 ⅜ in x 17 7/16 in (31.43 cm x 44.29 cm);18 ⅛ in x 23 3/16 in (46.04 cm x 58.9 cm)Credit Line(c) Ernst and Hans Barlach GbR Lizenzverwaltung, RatzeburgLabel copy
Perhaps best known for his sculpture, Ernst Barlach was also a prolific draftsman, printmaker and Expressionist playwright. Like many of his contemporaries following the ward, Barlach turned his creative focus to woodcut for its easily accessible and affordable materials and soon came to embrace woodcut as his favorite graphic medium.
This is the first in a series of seven woodcuts Barlach produced illustrating the Creation story from Genesis. The monumental, angular figure of God stands in stark contrast to the swirling, decorative clouds that surround him. From his outstreched hands bold vertical rays extend beyond the picture plane – a dramatic composition taken from Genesis 1:3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
Two years later, the artist cast this figure of God in stone using it as a prototype for one of several war memorials he created throughout Germany; this particular work was made for the cathedral of Gustrow which was ultimately dismantled by the Nazis when Barlach’s work was condemned as “degenerate.”
Text written by Katharine A. Weiss, Exhibitions Assistant, on the occasion of the UMMA exhibition Graphic Visions: German Expressionist Prints and Drawings, January 25–April 6, 2003, West GalleryPrimary Object ClassificationPrintCollection AreaModern and ContemporaryRights
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modern and contemporary art