Nolde, Emil

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Nolde, Emil

Emil Nolde (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 Brücke 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 Liebermann, 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).

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