19 December, 2006

Emil Nolde

Autumn Evening , 1924


For Nolde the Third Reich brought defamation. His paintings were confiscated from the museums and his work was a special focus of the exhibition “Entartete Kunst” (“Degenerate Art”). From 1941 on he was prohibited from painting at all.


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 colour, colourful and glowing flower pictures came into existence. During a sojourn in Alsen in 1906 Nolde met the painters of 'Die Brücke', a group he joined briefly in the same year.





The Brücke group was quickly rehabilitated in the postwar years, although the attempt to stylise the anti-Semitic Emile Nolde as a resistance figure continues to astonish. Werner Haftmann, a well-known West German art historian, celebrated Nolde, the artist of inner emigration, as an "existential antifascist. Even more than those who were racially persecuted, he refused political strictures and intensified his own work."

The turbulent history of "Die Brücke" in Germany


... the 1937 "Entartete Kunst" (Degenerate Art) exhibition in Munich, which the Nazi Government organized to show the German people the kind of art they were meant to hate. That July, crowded willy-nilly into narrow galleries, on walls scrawled with epithets like "German Farmers as Seen by Jews," were 650 works by artists who included Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Wassily Kandinsky, and Emile Nolde. These works represent the 16,000 that had been confiscated from German public collections.

One of the founders of Die Brücke, (the Bridge) in 1905 along with Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirschner, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde was intensely interested in printmaking.

The artists of the group frequently circulated exhibitions of prints in woodcut, etching, and lithograph; their hope was to strike a prophetic chord and awaken their compatriots to a new, free, passionate age.

Nolde, however, was too inclined to go his own way (and too much inclined to be suspicious of everyone) to stay with any group for long. Instead, he withdrew to work by himself on the moors and at the seashore of Northern Germany. His work, all of which was condemned by the Nazis as "Degenerate," is deeply spiritual and extremely intense, particularly his earlier work.

The Prophet, pictured below, is his most famous print and the work that, for many, best defines German Expressionism.

Nolde wanted his woodcuts to "embody an inner spiritual resonance," and he wrote, "
I want so much for my work to grow forth out of the material, just as in nature the plants grow forth out of the earth, which corresponds to their character"

The Art that Hitler Hated: Kathe Kollwitz and German Expressionist Printmaking

1 comment:

Hels said...

Super coverage of a vexed issue.. I want De Brucke to be re-examined properly, but I don't want anti-Semitic art history to be whitewashed.

Thanks for the link... your images were also excellent.
Art and Architecture, mainly