Sunday, April 17, 2011

Artist of the Week - Emil Nolde (Linking to ABC Wednesday)

 N is for Nolde
German Expressionist painter and printmaker


"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."  ~ Emil Nolde


 Green Landscape with Red Cloud

"I had an infinite number of visions at this time, for wherever I turned my eyes nature, the sky, the clouds were alive, in each stone and in the branches of each tree, everywhere, my figures stirred and lived their still or wildly animated life, and they aroused my enthusiasm as well as tormented me with demands that I paint them."

Spectators at theCabaret

"The art of an artist must be his own art. It is... always a continuous chain of little inventions, little technical discoveries of one's own, in one's relation to the tool, the material and the colors."

"What an artist learns matters little. What he himself discovers has a real worth for him, and gives him the necessary incitement to work."

Lost Paradise

Linking to ABC Wednesday


  1. I can't think of an artist more likely to make me stay up too late (as I'm doing) writing a comment.

    I was shown Nolde's work by a college roommate and fellow art student. I hated them - they made me feel angry and ill. He goaded me for weeks about my reaction. He was correct - the reaction was all out of scale. The paintings frightened me with their freedom, and with their almost savage innocence. I had a lot to learn, about myself, and about art. It would be decades before I rediscovered Emil Nolde, and fell in love with one group of his paintings, in particular.

    Emil Nolde spent the years of World War II branded as a degenerate artist by the Nazis. Forbidden to paint, to even possess the materials for making art, he continued to paint daily in a tiny hidden space in his house, on little slips of paper (usually about the size of an envelope) with watercolors smuggled to him by friends. He lived in continuous fear of discovery, which would probably have resulted in his death in a concentration camp, but he could not stop. His wife supported him in this clandestine expression of his heart.

    The resulting paintings are amazing. I have a treasured book which contains reproductions of over a hundred of them. I allow myself to look at two new ones every few weeks. I've been playing that delicious game for almost two years now.

    In these tiny watercolors, Nolde let the paint suggest figures, which he then brought to the surface. They enthrall me. Perhaps it's because I also allow images to emerge, rising from the lines and colors placed almost randomly on the page. They also stop me in my tracks because he was so free and permissive with the paint, which still serves his vision and his style. And the colors... Even among the Fauves, there is no one who colored the world in such earthy yet luminous hues. The colors capture feelings unlike any I've seen. His pure heart, his deep feelings, come through these joyful images, painted with extraordinary freedom in the midst of oppression and great fear.

  2. Interesting artist, of whom I hadn't previously heard.

    The expressions on Adam and Eve are priceless!


  3. Steve - since I discovered the German Expressionists about two years ago - REALLY discovered them, Nolde has been a stand-out.

    Interesting to note that he supported the Nazis but even that was not enough to allow him to keep painting without persecution. I wonder if he really believed in the cause or if it was an attempt at self-protection and to be allowed to keep painting...

    As always thank you, thank you, thank you! Sending a hug!

  4. I don't know the German expressionists - so thank you for the introduction.
    Nolde's work is so 'busy' and the brush strokes frantic - I love them. How sad that he lived in fear. Perhaps that is why there is so much going on in his work ... a dash to get it all done.

  5. Aguja

    What I didn't mention last night is that he outlived the Nazis regime, and had an explosion of creativity and work following the war. A number of the paintings in Pagan's selection are oils from that afterword.

  6. I looked at these for a long time yesterday then left without saying anything. Apologies for being too caught up in a new painting. Now I've come back and have read Steve's description of his initial reaction and his reasons for loving Nolde's work. They are very powerful paintings and strangely beautiful.

  7. A wonderful thing about Nolde is the way he positively revels in colours.

  8. Fantastic post for the day, Gina! And what wonderful, interesting comments from your readers! I love Nolde's beautiful, colorful paintings! And what an admirable life he had! A brave man indeed!

    ABC Team

  9. Brilliant paintings! I like those strong contrasting colours! It shows courage and fantasy.
    Thanks for your comment. I must confess that I didn't write the post all myself, for I use a lot from Wikipedia.You will probably write much better English than I do.

  10. Another artist I don't know. (I repeat myself...)
    I like him, though the eyes, especially in the self-portrait are a tad spooky.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  11. Not only is your read and pictures brilliant...the people who have commented on your post, are most intersting too, especially the first one.

    Love meeting new Artists...

  12. I'm fascinated by how blue the blue eyes are, especially since Node was German. I really don't know if that means anything or not.

    Lost Paradise looks so very sad, Lost indeed.

  13. Really like the painting of the trees, the vivid colours and how the trees look like they are swaying gives it an eerie feeling.

  14. Great write up and examples of the artist's work.

  15. Strong paintings. I didn't know of him so the information is valuable and well presented.

  16. Interesting art. I love the use of color, but those eyes are kind of scary.
    Really interesting post, thanks.

  17. Fascinating post! I should have known his name since printmaking was my area of concentration, but alas! There are too many to study, I suppose (artists). All of which offer wonder insights into life via their art and their lives. Thanks to Steve, too for adding more info to the pot!

  18. Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment but particularly to Steve, who always enhances my posts with his comments!


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