Emil Nolde (1867-1956)

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Emil Hansen was born near the German-Danish border on August 7th 1867.  He adopted the name of his birth town as his artist name at a later date.  Nolde completed his apprenticeship as a furniture designer and wood carver in Flensburg between 1884 and 1888, and then worked for various furniture factories in Munich, Karlsruhe and Berlin.  He was employed as a teacher of industrial drawing at the Gewerbermuseum (Industrial Museum) in St. Gallen in 1892.  He continued teaching in St. Gallen until 1898, a period during which he became an enthusiastic mountain climber.  Postcards with his images of the Swiss Alps were printed in large editions and were a lucrative source of income.  Nolde finally moved to Munich after deciding to become a painter.  He joined Adolph Holzel in Dachau in 1899 to become his pupil, studied independently at the Munich Pinakothek and went to Paris in 1900 to increase his knowledge at the Académie Julian.  Nolde studied the Neo-Impressionists, Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and James Ensor, which, around 1905, gradually led him away from his early Romantic Naturalism and to the discovery of his own style with a strong emphasis on color.  A primeval, eruptive urge of expression determined his use of color, which ignores any formal criteria.  In the following years he intensified his colors to an utmost brilliance in his colorful and glowing flower pictures.  During a sojourn in Alsen in 1906 Nolde met the painters of ‘Die Brucke,' a group he joined briefly in the same year.  A series of portrait studies marks the artist's discovery of the watercolor.  Nolde's first attempts in 1909 at painting in this technique on non-absorbent paper, leaving large areas of paper uncovered became increasingly important in the artist's work in 1918, but Nolde also continued in painting and graphic art.  His graphic oeuvre includes not only lithographs and engravings, but, above all numerous woodcuts.  Defamed during the war, and banned from exhibiting his works since 1941, Nolde spent the years 1939 to 1945 in Seebull painting his ‘unpainted paintings,' more than 1000 small watercolors.  His expressive, flat compositions and his powerful color-intensive style considerably influenced German Expressionism.  



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