Born in Reudnitz, Germany in 1943, Barsch received his early art training in Hamburg and Hannover. He became interested in the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism and later studied Egyptian and Islamic culture and history, themes that are evident in his art. He received a master's degree in printmaking from Brigham Young University in 1971 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting in 1972 and immediately joined the art faculty at BYU.
In 1975, Barsch won The Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome and spent the next year living and working there. As a leader of the "Art and Belief" Movement, Barsch's works brought forth a new recognition for Mormon Art during the 1980's. Among his achievements are the Printmaking Award from the Western States Art Foundation, an award for Excellence in Art from Snowbird Institute, and the Director's Award from the Springville Museum of Art.
In 1984 at the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico, Barsch collaborated with printer Brian Haberman to create a six-color lithograoh titled, "The Sentinel".