Label Text: Ernst Barlach completed this drawing during his brief military service (1915-16). The thresher represents Germany’s revered World War I military commander, Paul von Hindenburg, whose victories on the Eastern Front made him a national hero and an icon of German strength and honor. Hindenburg’s strong arms and massive hands are cutting down Germany’s enemy, the Russians, rather than wheat. Through his confident and gestural line, the artist depicts Hindenburg as a solid and powerful leader.
Barlach is better known for his sculpture than his graphic art. In the 1930s, the Nazis branded Barlach’s art “degenerate” and by the time of his death, almost 400 pieces of his art had been removed from German museums and some had been destroyed.