Nolde, Emil

Nolde, Emil

(ā`mēl nôl`də), 1867–1956, German expressionist painter and graphic artist. His original name was Emil Hansen. After teaching in Switzerland (1892–98), Nolde traveled through Europe and in 1906 joined the BrückeBrücke, Die
[Ger.,=the bridge], German expressionist art movement, lasting from 1905 to 1913. Influenced by the art of Jugendstil (the German equivalent of art nouveau), Van Gogh, and the primitive sculpture of Africa and the South Seas, the Brücke
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 group of German expressionists. Nolde's explosively colored paintings were continually refused by the Berlin secession group. In protest Nolde wrote an open letter to Max LiebermannLiebermann, Max
, 1847–1935, German genre painter and etcher. He went to Paris in 1873, where he was impressed by the Barbizon school of painters. In Holland he was influenced by Frans Hals and Jozef Israëls.
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, president of the secession, and thereby started a bitter controversy. In 1911 he helped found the New Secession. Nolde's most powerful work was his exploration of the supernatural (demonic heads, mystic appearances, and religious images). His woodcut The Prophet (1912; National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.) is a terrible, savage image of pain. He painted bold, arresting landscapes and applied his expressionist technique to produce notable oils and watercolors of flowers (e.g., Flowers, Mus. of Modern Art, New York City). His masklike portraits conjure up a world of primitive emotions. Violent, clashing colors are combined with exaggerated distortions of shape. Among of his well-known paintings are Christ among the Children (Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) and Ripe Sunflowers (Inst. of Arts, Detroit). Nolde's work was condemned and largely confiscated by the Nazi regime.


See his Unpainted Pictures, ed. by W. Haftmann (tr. 1965, rev. ed. 1972) and Landscapes, ed. by M. Urban (tr. 1970); studies by W. Haftmann (tr. 1959) and P. Selz (1963).

Nolde, Emil


(pseudonym of E. Hansen). Born Aug. 7, 1867, in Nolde, northern Schleswig, present-day Denmark; died Apr. 15, 1956, in Seebüll, Holstein, Federal Republic of Germany. German painter and graphic artist.

From 1885 to 1889, Nolde attended the School of Wood Carving in Flensburg (Schleswig-Holstein). He continued his studies in Munich, Dachau (Bavaria), Paris, and Copenhagen. From 1892 to 1898, Nolde taught at a technical school in Sankt Gallen in Switzerland. He was one of the leading masters of expressionism. From 1905 to 1907 he was a member of Die Brücke.

Nolde’s paintings, most of which have religious themes, combine elements of the fantastic and the real and are characterized by mystical exaltation. Nolde endeavored to emphasize the tension and inner drama of his subjects by greatly distorting natural forms and using contrasting combinations of patches of light-saturated colors. His works include the altarpiece The Life of Christ (1911–12; the Nolde Museum, Seebüll) and the triptych The Legend of St. Maria Aegyptica (1912; Kunsthalle, Hamburg). Nolde also painted landscapes. He was a watercolorist and sculptor.


Pis’ma. [Preface and translation by B. A. Zernov.] In Mastera iskusstvo ob iskusstve, vol. 5, book 2. Moscow, 1969. Pages 97–104.
Briefe. Edited by M. Sauerlandt. Berlin, 1927.
Jahre der Kämpfe. Berlin, 1934.


Tikhomirov, A. N. “Ekspressionizm.” In Modernizm. Moscow, 1973. Pages 21–22.
Fehr, H. E. Nolde. Cologne, 1957.
Selz, P. E. Nolde. New York, 1963.
Emil Nolde… Ausstellung. Cologne, 1973. (Exhibition catalog.)
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