Emil Nolde

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photo of Emil Nolde by Minya Diez-Dührkoop, November 1929
Emil Nolde, 1915: 'South Sea Islander / Südsee-Insulaner II', lithograph in colors, on wove paper; current location: Brooklyn Museum, New York
Emil Nolde, 1922: 'Landscape with farmhouse', oil on canvas: current location: Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg, Germany

Emil Nolde (7 August 186713 April 1956) was a German painter. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and is considered to be one of the great watercolor painters of the 20th century.

Quotes of Emil Nolde[edit]

  • I produce a form, an impression of light, a beauty of tones.. .The etchings are now full of life, an ecstasy, a dance, a gentle motion and fluctuation in tones.
  • Therefore etching produces a different result from the ten drawings of the same character.. .[The etchings are] better, in that they are fresher, bolder, and freer..
  • You speak of errors.. .Men who are so correct and flawless are mostly boring; small weaknesses can be loved.. .One chief characteristic of the etchings gives me much pleasure: because out of them streams forth a tremendous life.
    • Nolde, in two letters to Hans Fehr, October 23 and November 22, 1905; in Fehr, 'Aus Leben und Werkstatt', 'Das Kunstblatt' no. 7 (1919), pp. 205-6; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 5
    • in two letters to Hans Fehr (his former pupil), Nolde described in 1905 the role his experiments in etching played in generating a subjective imagery and unorthodox surfaces that unlocked his own inner world
  • Every true artist creates new values, new beauty.. .When you notice anarchy, recklessness, or licentiousness in works of contemporary art, when you notice crass coarseness and brutality, then occupy yourself long and painstakingly precisely with these works, and you will suddenly recognize how the seeming recklessness transforms itself into freedom, the coarseness into high refinements. Harmless pictures are seldom worth anything.
    • In a letter to Hans Fehr, 1905; published in 'Aus Leben und Werkstatt Emil Noldes', 'Das Kunstblatt' no. 7 (1919), p. 208; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 40
    • Hans Fehr expressed in a letter to Nolde his concern about the 'recklessness' and 'licentiousness' of some prints by Nolde. Fehr published Nolde's response in 1919
  • 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. In the print 'Lebensfreude' [Joy of living] I worked for the most part with my finger, and the effect I hoped for was achieved. There is hidden in the print a bit of wantonness, in the representation as well as in the boldness of the technique. If I were to make the "ragged and moving" contours "correctly" in the academic sense, this effect would not nearly be achieved.
    • In a letter to his friend Gustav Schiefler[1], 1906, in 'Gustav Schiefler and Christel Mosel', Emil Nolde: Das graphische Werk, vol. 2.; M. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne, 1966-67, p. 8; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p.50
    • Nolde described how the exhilarating new sense of collaboration with the medium had freed him from the constraints of traditional etching techniques and encouraged a bolder, freer expression
  • In the working of wood and for the determining of its character I had had enough experience in my five-year pursuit of woodcutting. I also always gladly let the various charming grainings and sometimes the knots become involved in the printing.
    • quote from a letter, c. 1910; in Alois J. Schardt[2], 'Nolde als Graphiker', Das Kunstblatt 11, no. 8., 1927, p. 289; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 52
  • A new day. Calm as seldom the beginning of such a one. Did I dream? No! Dream and contented pure was the night.. .It is the sure certainty of having found unity with nature, this calm causes one of the strongest experiences.
    Man, air, trees, world are laid bare and are one!
    Contented sleep releases the limbs. We await full moon. Await the dance!
    • c. 1918; in Aus dem Palau-Tagebuch, Das Kunstblatt 2, no. 6, p. 179; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 43
  • Dualism is particularly important in both my paintings and my graphics.
    • 'Years of Struggle 1902-14' Autobiography Berlin 1934
  • Pictures are spiritual beings. The soul of the painter lives within them.
    • 'Years of Struggle 1902-14' Autobiography Berlin 1934

Quotes about Emil Nolde[edit]

  • To get straight to the point, the local group of artist called Die Brücke would reckon it a high honor to be able to welcome you as a member. Of course you will know as little about Die Brücke as we knew about you before your exhibition at [Arnold's [gallery Arnold at Dresden]. Now, one of the aims of Die Brücke is to attract all the revolutionary and fermenting elements to itself – that's the meaning of the name Brücke [Bridge]. The group also arranges several exhibitions a year, which it sends on tour in Germany.. .Now, dear Herr Nolde, think as you like and what you like, we hope this offer is the proper price for your tempests od colour.
    • In a letter of Schmidt-Rottluff from Dresden, 1906 to Emil Nolde; as quoted in Expressionism, de:Wolf-Dieter Dube; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 32
    • Nolde became a member for a year and a half, probably because Nolde was much older than the other Brücke artists
  • ..The same sense of the.. ..individuality and the nature-given force of a material that led Nolde in his etchings to allow the etching acid, above all, to work, made him use in his woodcuts not the end of the block, which had been utilized until then, but the long side.. .With Nolde it is precisely on the structure of the wood that the language of his cuts comes to depend and by which it is stimulated.
    • Alois J. Schardt[3], 1927, in his article 'Nolde als Graphiker', Das Kunstblatt 11, no. 8 (1927), p. 294; as quoted in 'The Revival of Printmaking in Germany', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 42

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