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Emil Nolde

1867 - 1956 Nolde, Germany

2 Works exhibited

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  • About the Artist

Emil Hansen, who later took the name of his home town of Nolde as an artist, was born on August
7, 1867 in the German-Danish borderland. He began his artistic career with depictions of
mountain trolls and mythical creatures, which were published as postcards and with which the
young artist, who came from a farming family, unexpectedly achieved his first success.
With the decision to become a painter, Nolde went to Munich, where he studied at Adolf Hölzel's
private painting school in Dachau and from 1899 at the Académie Julian in Paris.
Through his involvement with the Neo-Impressionists van Gogh, Munch and Ensor, from 1905
onwards the artist moved from his initially Romantic Naturalism to an independent style in which
colour played a major role. Colour-intensive, luminous watercolours of flowers evolved. During a
sojourn in Alsen in 1906, Nolde met the artists of the "Brücke, a group he temporarily joined.
After his exclusion from the "Berliner Sezession", of which he had been a member since 1908, he
founded the "Neue Sezession" together with other rejected artists in 1910. The artist was also
increasingly fascinated by Primitivism. He returned from an expedition to New Guinea in 1913
with plenty of study material, which he worked up in numerous works until 1915. From 1916
Nolde spent the summers on the island of Föhr, and in 1928 he settled in Seebüll. The garden laid
out there became an unfailing source of inspiration for his painting. Coasts, luminous marsh and
sea landscapes and religious scenes were other primary pictorial motifs, but also the lesser-known
mountain landscapes resulting from the numerous vacations to his adopted country of Switzerland
in the 1920s to the 1940s were among these.
Nolde's role during the period of National Socialism has been extensively examined for years by
art historical research, above all by the Nolde Foundation. Efforts by the painter to offer his
pictures to the Nazi rulers as new folk art and to establish himself as a state artist were
categorically rejected by them. Nolde's paintings were neither in terms of content nor formally
compatible with the ideas of the National Socialists. From 1941 onwards, the artist was banned
from working and thousands of works were confiscated. Nevertheless, Nolde continued to work
continuously during the war. As painting material was scarce, he fell back on the little resources
which were available and painted smaller formats. These works known as "unpainted pictures"
were created from 1931 onwards. After the war, Nolde wrote his memoirs and thus also promoted
the myths surrounding his own person, which would shape his image for future generations. The
latest research in this regard has meanwhile revealed a much differentiated picture of Emil Nolde
as a person and his political and ideological position. His art, however, stands for itself and has
lost none of its fascinating radiance with its distinctive colour intensity for today's viewers.
In the last years of Nolde's life, he mainly created watercolours with floral and landscape motifs
from the surroundings of his house in Seebüll, where he died in 1956. Shortly afterwards the Ada
and Emil Nolde Foundation in Seebüll was established to administer the extensive estate.

Works by Emil Nolde

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