Photography lecture by Franziska Hell: "Photography – it s also some kind of witchcraft" – Ernst Barlach s relationship to photography


Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:00 pm

The reading will be in German. Please register here.

Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) is one of the most famous German sculptors, drawers and authors of the 20th century. Especially with his wooden sculptures, he influenced modern sculpting crucially.


Ernst Barlach’s life and his artistic work have been the topic of numerous studies. However, the role of photography in the life of the artist has not been examined yet – even though Ernst Barlach had to deal with photographers and the effect of their work in all parts of his life. In his private daily routine, but even more so in his public life – photography became a steady companion of the artist. Nevertheless his relationship to the medium stayed ambivalent. Seeing the commercial power of photographs of his artwork, Ernst Barlach was willing to work with a few professional photographers. However, he kept his suspicion of them and their skills. With the words “Photography – it’s also some kind of witchcraft” the artist summed up his relationship to photography in a very precise way while talking to his friend Paul Schurek in 1933. He disliked photographers who would be too ambitious in artistic terms and who would reduce the clear structure and the expression of an object by working with exposure to light and other effects. Ernst Barlach preferred plain and simply structured photographs which had almost only a documenting character and which weren’t meant purely artistic.


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