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Emil Nolde

German artist
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 and a short two years member of Die Brücke. He is considered to be one of the great watercolor painters of the 20th century.

Contents

Quotes of Emil NoldeEdit

Quotes, 1900 - 1920Edit

  • They [his own fantasies he made in strange pencil drawings then] hover before me now in drifting color, more beautiful than I can possibly paint them.. ..I yearn for the day when I will have found my color harmonies, my harmonies.
    • in a letter, 1902, to Hans Fehr; as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 35
    • During the next few years, he virtually commuted between Copenhagen and Berlin; in the fishing village of Lildstand on Jutland's northern coast, he produced strange pencil drawings, as he wrote to Fehr
  • It [the city Berlin] stinks of perfume, they have water on their brains and they live as food for bacilli and shamelessly like dogs.
    • In a letter to a friend, 1902; as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 36
  • I had innumerable visions at that time [c. 1903]; wherever I looked, Nature was alive, the sky, the clouds, on every stone and among the branches of the trees, everywhere my creatures stirred and lived their still or wild, lively lives, arousing my excitement and crying out to be painted.
  • Nolde wrote this in 1903, on the island of Alsen; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 77
  • 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, 23 October and 22 November, 1905; as quoted by Hans Fehr, in: '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
    • Nolde described in 1905 the role his experiments played in etching - 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, 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
  • Nobody had made the same full use of the properties of acids and metal in this way before. Having drown on the copper-plate and left areas of it bare, I laid it in the bath of acid and achieved effects that astonished even me, full of subtle nuances.
    • quote c. 1906-07; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 78
    • Nolde is explaining his technique of surface-etching to the other Brücke-artists
  • None of the free [ a.o. his first religious] imaginative pictures that I painted at this time [c.1909] or later, had any kind of model, or even a clearly conceived idea. It was quite easy for me to imagine a work right down to its smallest details, and in fact my preconceptions were usually far more beautiful than the painted outcome: I became the copyist of the idea. Therefore I liked to avoid thinking about a picture beforehand, all I needed was a vague idea of luminescences of colour. The work then developed of its own accord under my hands.
  • 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, '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

'On Primitive Art – Emil Nolde, 1912Edit

from: Introduction, 1912, of the intended book On the artistic expressions of primitive peoples ('Kunstäusserungen der Naturvölker') - published on 'Art Theory'

  • 'The most perfect art was Greek art. Raphael is the greatest of all masters in painting'. Such were the doctrines of every art teacher only twenty or thirty years ago.
    • 1.
  • Since then, much has changed. We do not care for Raphael, and are less enthusiastic about the statues of the so-called golden age of Greece. Our predecessors’ ideals are not ours. Works signed by great names over the centuries appeal to us less. In the hurry and bustle of their times, worldly-wise artists created works for Popes and palaces. It is the ordinary people who laboured in their workshops and of whose lives scarcely anything is now known, whose very names have not come down to us, that we love and respect today in their plain, large-scale carvings in the cathedrals of Naumburg, Magdeburg and Bamberg.
    • 2.
  • Not long ago only a few artistic periods were thought suitable for museums. Then they were joined by exhibitions of Coptic and early Christian art, Greek terracotta's and vases, Persian and Islamic art. But why is Indian, Chinese and Javanese art still classified under ethnology or anthropology? And why is the art of primitive peoples not considered art at all?
    • 4.
  • In our own time, every earthenware vessel or piece of jewelry, every utensil or garment, has to be designed on paper before it is made. Primitive peoples, however, create their works with the material itself in the artist's hand, held in his fingers. They aspire to express delight in form and the love of creating it. Absolute originality, the intense and often grotesque expression of power and life in very simple forms – that may be why we like these works of native art.
    • 6.

Quotes, 1921 - 1956Edit

  • Dualism is particularly important in both my paintings and my graphics.
    • from: Years of Struggle 1902-14' Autobiography Berlin 1934
  • Pictures are spiritual beings. The soul of the painter lives within them.
    • from: Years of Struggle 1902-14' Autobiography Berlin 1934
  • There is silver blue, sky blue and thunder blue. Every color 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, colors are colors, tones tones.. ..and that is all. All their consequences for the human spirit, which range between heaven to hell, just go unnoticed.
    • Nolde wrote in 1942; as quote Nolde: Forbidden Pictures [exhibition catalog], Marlsborough Fine Art Ltd., London, 1970, p. 9
  • How glad I am to be almost alone as an artist among artists, with the whole swarm of artists somewhere else.
    • note of 13 March 1947; as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 32

undated quotesEdit

  • Yellow can paint happiness and also pain.. .Every color harbors its soul within, delighting or repelling and inspiring me.
  • The materials, the colors, were like friendship and love, both wanting to fulfill themselves in the most beautiful form.
  • ..colors are my notes for fashioning sounds and chords with and against one another.
    • as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 35
    • some short quotes of Nolde in which he expresses the evocative power of color, which became with his garden and flower paintings from 1906-07 the chief medium of his art.
  • If I were tied to the letter of the Scriptures and rigid dogma, I believe I could not have painted these profoundly felt paintings about the Eucharist and the 'Pentecost' [religious paintings, he made c. 1909-11) I had to be artistically free - not have God before me. like a steely Assyrian ruler, but God in me, hot and holy like Christ's love.
    • as quoted in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 3
  • When I was a child, eight or ten years old, I made a solemn promise to God that, when I grew up, I would write him a hymn for the prayer-book. The vow has never been fulfilled. But I have painted a large number of pictures, and there must be more than thirty religious ones. I wonder if they will do instead.
  • a later confession to his friend de:Friedrich Fehr [art-teacher]; as quoted by de:Wolf-Dieter Dube, in Expressionism; Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973, p. 76

Quotes about Emil NoldeEdit

  • 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
  • His pictures [of Nolde, which Jawlensky met in 1912] remind me of my own in the strength of their expression. I have a passionate love for Nolde and his art.
  • Abstract artists, far removed from this earth, or fugitives from it, sometimes forget that Nolde exists. Nor so I, even on my furthest flights, from which I always manage to find my way back to earth to rest in the gravitational force I find there. Nolde is more than 'of' the earth, he is the sphere's guardian spirit. Domiciled elsewhere oneself, one is always aware of the cousin in the deep, the kinsman of one's choice.
  • ..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, 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
  • Between Utenwarf and Seebüll [close to Neukirchen ], Nolde found the landscape that promised to fulfill a yearning - one of the fundamental experiences of German Expressionism - a yearning for the fusion of the self and the cosmos, the striving for the 'primal states' of human life, when the outer world and the inner world were still one.
    • In: Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 36

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