Ernst Barlach. The Transformations of God (Die Wandlungen Gottes). (1922, prints executed c. 1919/21)

Ernst Barlach The Transformations of God (Die Wandlungen Gottes) (1922, prints executed c. 1919/21)

  • Not on view

Ernst Barlach made these prints to cope with his grief over the death of his mother. Loosely, the seven sheets illustrate the formation of the world and Barlach's fervent belief in the unity of all creation. The first two sheets explicitly address this theme. In Der erste Tag (The first day), God radiates power; softly rolling clouds part around his angular, blocky body, which was influenced by Gothic sculpture. Next, in Die Dome (The cathedrals), he surveys man-made creation. Der göttliche Bettler (The divine beggar) shows God, having descended to earth in the guise of a cripple, experiencing the brutality that has beset the land. Gott Bauch (God belly), which depicts a grotesque deity towering over uninterested men, manifests Barlach's disappointment that his contemporaries were interested more in physical than in spiritual fulfillment. In Totentanz II (Dance of death II) Barlach focuses on the redeeming power of love, which protects two figures from a terrifying crowd. Die Felsen (The rocks) and Der siebente Tag (The seventh day) portray God as a force as strong and eternal as the mountains.

This portfolio was the last publication of the illustrious Berlin-based Pan-Presse, which influential dealer Paul Cassirer had acquired in 1908 and which issued many of the most artistically accomplished illustrated books and portfolios of the Expressionist era.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Portfolio of seven woodcuts
Pan-Presse (Verlag Paul Cassirer)
Pan-Presse, Berlin
121 (including 11 on "Bütten" paper reserved for the artist, and 110 on Japan paper [this ex.])
Gift of Victor S. Riesenfeld
Object number
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to