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Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde

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Emil Nolde (born Emil Hansen; 7 August 1867 – 13 April 1956) was a German-Danish painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and was one of the first oil painting and watercolor painters of the early 20th century to explore color. He is known for his brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Golden yellows and deep reds appear frequently in his work, giving a luminous quality to otherwise somber tones. His watercolors include vivid, brooding storm-scapes and brilliant florals.

Nolde's intense preoccupation with the subject of flowers reflected his interest in the art of Vincent van Gogh.

Emil Nolde was born as Emil Hansen near the village of Nolde (since 1920 part of the municipality of Burkal in Southern Jutland, Denmark), in the Prussian Duchy of Schleswig. He grew up on a farm. His parents, devout Protestants, were Frisian and Danish peasants. He realized his unsuitability for farm life and that he and his three brothers were not at all alike. Between 1884 and 1891, he studied to become a carver and illustrator in Flensburg, and worked in furniture factories as a young adult. He spent his years of travel in Munich, Karlsruhe and Berlin.

In 1889, he gained entrance into the School of Applied Arts in Karlsruhe. From 1892 to 1898 he was a drawing instructor at the school of the Museum of Industrial and Applied Arts (Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum; today the Textilmuseum, or Textile Museum) in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He eventually left this job to finally pursue his dream of becoming an independent artist. As a child he had loved to paint and draw, but he was already 31 by the time he pursued a career as an artist. When he was rejected by the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1898, he spent the next three years taking private painting classes, visiting Paris, and becoming familiar with the contemporary impressionist scene that was popular at this time. He married Danish actress Ada Vilstrup in 1902 and moved to Berlin, where he would meet collector Gustav Schiefler and artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, both of whom would advocate his work later in life.

He became a member of the revolutionary expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge), of Dresden, in 1906, upon the group's invitation. This association lasted only until the end of the following year. From 1908 to 1910 he was a member of the Berlin Secession, before being excluded in 1910 due to a disagreement with the leadership. In 1912 he exhibited with Kandinsky’s Munich-based group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider); he had achieved some fame by this time and was able to support himself through his art. From 1902 he called himself after his birthplace.

Nolde was a supporter of the Nazi party from the early 1920s, having become a member of its Danish section. He expressed anti-semitic, negative opinions about Jewish artists, and considered Expressionism to be a distinctively Germanic style. This view was shared by some other members of the Nazi party, notably Joseph Goebbels and Fritz Hippler.

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