60th Annual Exhibition, 2016
Emil Nolde – The Late Work
“I paint many things and my paintings emerge glowingly young, often surprising even myself”, wrote Emil Nolde in 1947, nine years before his death.
Nolde is one of the preeminent artists who contributed decisively to the development of modern art in Germany. Despite this, in the past decades his late work has received only little attention. One reason for this is that he produced many of his paintings only after Expressionism, significantly influenced by Nolde, had been replaced by new artistic movements. Perhaps also, however, because Nolde himself never precisely defined his creative periods. It is well-known that he began painting relatively late in life, and his pictorial themes remained more or less the same right through to old age. One could say that Nolde remained true to himself, however over the course of time – slowly and for many barely visibly – he developed further, building upon earlier works.
Until now, Nolde’s late work has been underestimated in the art world. His development in the thirties and forties involved simplifying and emphasizing that which was most important to him, namely the emotional content behind the respective representation. No longer natural forces, but instead human relationships and emotions were now the focus. What in the work of the Expressionists was exciting and dramatic, Nolde transformed into the epic, or sometimes even the romantic; it became softer and quieter. His inspiration no longer came from nature, and he mostly worked from his small-format watercolours, the so-called “unpainted pictures” or “painting sketches”. Between 1945 and 1951 alone he created over 100 oil paintings in this way. The content-related pictorial vocabulary of his figurative paintings, seascapes, landscapes and flower paintings, and in particular the intensity of his glowing colours, show the painter’s great strengths, even in his later years.
We present these comprehensively for the first time in our new Annual Exhibition 2016. We cordially invite you to discover Nolde’s unknown late work in the coming months with us in Seebüll.
Dr. Christian Ring
Director of the Nolde Foundation Seebüll