Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Stormy Life of German Colorist Emil Nolde 1867-1956

. Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956)
Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956) was a German painter & printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists (even though he did not consider himself an Elpressionist), a member of Die Brücke, and is considered to be one of the great colorists of the 20th century.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956) Abendhimmel
He was born Emil Hansen, the son of a peasant family living in the coastal Schleswig area of Germany near the Danish border. He trained as a woodcarver; & at age 21 moved to Munich to work carving ornamental furniture moldings. He taught crafts for 6 years at the Museum of Industry & Trade in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He began to study art full time in 1898, at age 31, which took him back to Munich & briefly to Paris & Copenhagen, where he discovered the art of Vincent Van Gogh.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956)
In 1906, his evolving expressionist style of painting earned him membership in Die Brücke in Dresden and later the "New Secession" in Berlin, but his aloof & irritable personality caused a break with both groups within a year or two.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956) Stormy Sunset
Nolde was a supporter of the Nazi party from the early 1920s, having become a member of its Danish section. He expressed negative opinions about Jewish artists, and considered Expressionism to be a distinctively Germanic style.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956)
However Hitler rejected all forms of modernism as "degenerate art," & the Nazi regime officially condemned Nolde's work. Until that time he had been held in great prestige in Germany. Soon after, 1052 of his works were removed from museums, more than those of any other artist. Some were included in the Degenerate Art exhibition of 1937, despite his protests.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956) The Sea 1913
Nolde was not allowed to paint - even in private — after 1941. Nevertheless, during this period he created hundreds of watercolors calling them the "Unpainted Pictures." After World War II, Nolde was once again honoured, receiving the German Order of Merit, West Germany's highest civilian decoration.

Emil Nolde (German artist, 1867-1956) Self Portrait
In 1942 Nolde wrote, "There is silver blue, sky blue and thunder blue. Every colour holds within it a soul, which makes me happy or repels me, and which acts as a stimulus. To a person who has no art in him, colours are colours, tones tones...and that is all. All their consequences for the human spirit, which range between heaven to hell, just go unnoticed.".