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Ernst Barlach

"Die Frau mit untergeschlagenen Armen - Das junge Weib - (Woman with Folded Arms - Young Woman -)", 1922 / 1981


52,4 x 13,7 x 10,4 cm  ″

Not cast in his lifetime: Cast No. 1/6, 1981
Expertise Ernst Barlach Lizenzverwaltung, Ratzeburg
Catalogue raisonné Elisabeth Laur, Ernst Barlach, Das plastische Werk (Volume II),
Ernst Barlach Stiftung, Güstrow, 2006, Cat.-Rais. N°. 342 with illustration on p. 178.

N 9383

About the work

"Drapery artists", meaning sculptors who have decided to for the most part shroud the corporeality of their figures with clothing, pay special attention to the head, feet and hands. Ernst Barlach seldom worked with folded arms, but they do appear in a variety of postures (several times in his "Fries der Lauschenden [Frieze of the Listeners]"), whereby it is clear that a variety of things can be meant with this physical gesture. The range extends from "opening oneself (to that higher)" through "warming oneself by laying on hands" to "strengthening oneself in oneself, establishing oneself", which applies in particular to “the young woman”, as she is referred to in the subtitle of our figure.
We are looking at, and this is immediately apparent, a woman in contemporary clothing who does not evade our gaze but is inaccessible. Everything about her appears block-like; even the view between her feet, technically quite solvable as an “air zone”, here has the character of a wall, just like her gently curved lower body, which appears to be conceptually full (comparable with the sculpture “Trauer [Mourning]” (1913)).
The represented figure has almost no room to affect, indicated by the very small plinth on which she stands. The woman relies on her two engaged legs, folds her arms, is concentrated, shows no external stirring, which, in combination with the strictly mirror-symmetric overall appearance (only the pleats deviate from this), elicits the impression of  “still water”: there is evidently a rich interior world (strength, assertiveness) behind this flaunted ‘wall’, which is indicated in the facial features, although the facial expression remains inscrutable. In the literature, the woman is accurately described as having a “strong margin of warmth and the spice of reality”. Barlach allows this fascination to become vivid here.
(Horst Otto Müller)

Further works by Ernst Barlach

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