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Emil Nolde
Young Horses (Junge Pferde)
Oil on canvas

28 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchase and by exchange, 1979

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Excerpt from The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York:

Emil Nolde
b. 1867, Nolde, North Schleswig, Germany (Denmark) d. 1956, Seebüll, West Germany (Germany)

Born Emil Hansen on August 7, 1867, Emil Nolde was a German Expressionist painter and printmaker. A trained craftsman and wood-carver with artistic ambitions, he attended night classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Karslruhe in 1889. From 1892 to 1898, he was a drawing instructor in Switzerland, and then honed his drawing and drypoint practice while living briefly in Munich. In 1899 Nolde traveled to Paris where he attended the Académie Julian and became acquainted with the work of the Impressionists as well as that of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. After a short stay in Copenhagen in 1902, he lived on the island of Alsen in the Baltic Sea in the summers and spent winters in Berlin, creating etchings and crudely drawn violently colored landscapes, street scenes, and portraits. From 1906 to 1907, Nolde was a member of the Dresden-based German Expressionist group Die Brücke (founded by, among others, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff), and in 1910, he participated in the launch of the Neue Secession, an association of Expressionist artists in Berlin.

Nolde’s interest in religious mysticism is manifested in paintings such as the nine-panel work The Life of Christ (Das Leben Christi, 1911–12) and Maria Aegyptiaca (1912), a triptych resembling medieval painting cycles and manuscripts and featuring bold colors and ghostly, mask-like faces executed with deliberate crudeness. His works on paper—such as The Prophet (Der Prophet, 1912), an emblematic work of German Expressionist printmaking—similarly feature spiritual themes and have an often rudimentary quality informed by his appreciation for non-Western art and the work of James Ensor and Edvard Munch. Following a trip with an ethnological expedition to German New Guinea via Russia, China, and Southeast Asia in 1913–14, Nolde moved to the Baltic coast of Germany, settling in 1927 in Seebüll, where he led a solitary life and worked on portraits, atmospheric landscapes, and paintings of flowers such as Large Sunflowers (Grosse Sonnenblumen, 1928). In 1927 a catalogue raisonné of his graphic works from 1910 to 1925 was published in Berlin by Euphorion Verlag. Despite his support of the National Socialist Party during the 1920s and early ’30s, his work was included in the 1937 traveling exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art), and in 1941 he was banned from painting by the Nazi regime. From 1938 until the end of World War II, Nolde created his so-called “unpainted pictures,” mainly small-format watercolors. In the postwar period, he repainted some of them in oil and also worked on a series of self-portraits. Nolde died on April 15, 1956, in Seebüll.

After his memorial exhibition at the Hamburg Kunstverein in 1957, Nolde’s paintings and graphic works were exhibited in major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1963) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1995) Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1995) Brücke-Museum, Berlin (1999) Grand Palais, Paris (2008) and Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, Oslo (2012).


Additional Information

Emil Nolde: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Emil Nolde: Related Links on Art in Context


Emil Nolde, German, (1867-1956)
b. August 7, 1867, Nolde, Denmark
d. 1956

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