Friday, September 19, 2014

Constable: The Making of a Master


Victoria and Albert Museum
20 September 2014 - 11 January 2015


The V&A's major autumn exhibition will re-examine the work of John Constable (1776-1837), Britain’s best-loved artist. It will explore his sources, techniques and legacy and reveal the hidden stories behind the creation of some of his most well-known paintings.


Constable: The Making of a Master will juxtapose Constable’s work for the first time with the art of 17th-century masters of classical landscape such as Ruisdael, Rubens and Claude, whose compositional ideas and formal values Constable revered. On display will be such celebrated works as 




The Hay Wain (1821), 




The Cornfield (1826) and 




Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831), 


together with oil sketches Constable painted outdoors directly from nature, which are unequalled at capturing transient effects of light and atmosphere. The exhibition will bring together over 150 works of art including oil sketches, drawings, watercolours and engravings.


Martin Roth, V&A Director, said: “The V&A has been one of the leading centres for Constable research since the 19th century, following a significant gift of paintings, oil sketches and drawings from Constable’s daughter Isabel in 1888. This exhibition refreshes our understanding of his work and creative influence. It shows that Constable’s art, so well-loved and familiar to many of us, still delivers surprises.”


Born in East Bergholt, Suffolk on 11 June 1776, John Constable was the second son of a gentleman farmer and mill owner. Whilst working in the family business he became intimately familiar with the countryside around the River Stour and sketched observations of nature and the scenery and motifs of the Suffolk countryside. Given permission by his father to pursue art, he travelled to London in 1799 where he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts. He was schooled in the old masters, meticulously copying their work and reflecting on their compositions in his individual style. On display will be paintings including Moonlight Landscape (1635-1640) by Rubens and Landscape with a Pool (1746-7) by Gainsborough, which inspired Constable’s early practice.

Constable made a number of close copies of the old masters which he referred to as a “facsimile...a more lasting remembrance.” Paintings including 



Claude’s Landscape with a Goatherd and Goats (c.1636-7) and 








Ruisdael’s Windmills near Haarlem (c.1650-52), 

as well as etchings and drawings by Herman van Swanevelt and Alexander Cozens, will be displayed alongside





 Constable’s own direct copies, 

many of which will be brought together for the first time since they were produced almost 200 years ago. Constable also owned an extensive art collection that included 5000 etchings principally by 17th-century Dutch, Flemish and French landscape painters, which became a vital resource for his own image making.

Outdoor sketching was central to Constable’s working method. The 1810s saw the beginning of a series of expressive oil sketches and drawings in the open air, capturing the changes of weather and light in his native countryside. His naturalistic representation of the landscape and use of broad brushstrokes and impasto technique challenged conventions and brought the genre of outdoor oil sketching to a new level of refinement. Examples of his cloud studies, including sketches of Hampstead Heath and Brighton Beach will demonstrate Constable’s innovative and poetic evocations of land, sea and sky.

The exhibition will also investigate Constable’s methods for transferring the freshness of his sketches into his exhibition paintings. From 1818-19 Constable produced 





full-scale oil sketches 

to resolve the compositions, colours and light values of his ‘six-footers’ such as The Hay Wain (1821) (above) and 



The Leaping Horse (1825) which are amongst the best-known images in British art.

In the last decade of his life Constable and the engraver David Lucas collaborated on a series of mezzotints after the artist’s paintings. The final section of the exhibition will present a major group of these prints together with the exemplary original oil sketches on which they were based. Through these prints Constable sought to secure his artistic legacy and ensure the continued study of his groundbreaking paintings, which remain hugely influential to the present day.


Brighton Beach, 1824, by John Constable. Photograph: Victoria & Albert Museum Photograph: Victoria & Albert Museum

Exhibition Publication 

An accompanying publication, John Constable: The Making of a Master (by Mark Evans, with Susan Owens and Stephen Calloway) will be available from V&A Publishing priced £30.00 in hardback. This will be a companion volume to an earlier publication by Mark Evans, John Constable: Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

From a review in The Telegraph:


 John Constable: The Making of a Master isn’t an exhibition that sets out to knock your socks off in the opening rooms. There is a lot of contextual material… When proper Constable works appear, they are very small. Yet that isn’t a problem. Where many artists impress through scale, Constable can seem most himself when size, subject and ambition are at their most compressed. By the time of The Leaping Horse of 1825, four years later, the gap in handling between sketch and finished work is starting to close; though modern viewers are still likely to prefer the rawness of the study; which may lead to the uneasy suspicion that we may be enjoying these works in ways the artist never intended. Constable doesn’t just give us memorable images of mythic English places such as Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral, he gives us a sense of the excitement with which these places were rediscovered by the Romantic movement. His glorious watercolour of Stonehenge, with two rainbows hitting the ground beside the ancient stones, will strike an atavistic chord in anyone with even the slightest feel for the British past. In Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, painted in 1831, when he was 55 and had only six years left to live, he heightens the drama in the blustery sky, throwing a rainbow over the image in a mystical fusing of past and present that belies the sense of Constable as a mere dour observer of empirical reality.

A review in The Guardian


 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography



October 21, 2014-January 4, 2015
This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the first major retrospective in nearly fifty years to be devoted to Paul Strand (American, 1890–1976), one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium. It will explore the remarkable evolution of Strand’s work, from the breakthrough moment in the second decade of the twentieth century when he brought his art to the brink of abstraction to his broader vision of the place of photography in the modern world, which he would develop over the course of a career that spanned six decades.

This exhibition will examine every aspect of Strand’s work, from his early efforts to establish photography as a major independent art form and his embrace of filmmaking as a powerful medium capable of broad public impact to his masterful extended portraits of people and places that would often take compelling shape in the form of printed books and must be considered among his greatest achievements. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography will celebrate the recent acquisition of more than 3,000 prints from the Paul Strand Archive, which has made the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s largest and most comprehensive repository of Strand’s work.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director, stated: “Strand’s achievement was remarkable. The distinctive place he holds in the history of modern photography rests on his extraordinary artistic talent as well as his belief in the transformative power of the medium in which he chose to work.

From his early experiments with street photography in New York to his sensitive portrayal of daily life in New England, Italy, and Ghana, Strand came to believe that the most enduring function of photography and his work as an artist was to reveal the essential nature of the human experience in a changing world. He was also a master craftsman, a rare and exacting maker of pictures. We are delighted to be able to present in this exhibition a selection of works drawn almost exclusively from the Museum’s collection, and to share these with audiences in the United States and abroad. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography will introduce a new generation of visitors to a great modern artist.”

Paul Strand’s career spanned a period of revolutionary change both in the arts and in the wider world. Always motivated by a strong sense of social purpose, he came to believe that depicting the human struggle, both economic and political, was central to his responsibility as an artist. The exhibition will begin with his rapid mastery of the prevailing Pictorialist style of the 1910s, reflected in serene landscapes such as




The River Neckar, Germany (1911).

On view also will be his innovative photographs of 1915–17 in which he explored new subject matter in the urban landscape of New York and new aesthetic ideas in works such as




Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut (1916).

These new directions in Strand’s photography demonstrated his growing interest both in contemporary painting—especially Cubism and the work of the American artists championed by Alfred Stieglitz—and in discovering for photography a unique means of expressing modernity. Strand’s work of this period includes candid, disarming portraits of people observed on the street—the first of their type—such as Blind Woman, New York (1916),



Blind Woman, New York, 1916 (negative); 1945 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image: 12 3/4 × 9 3/4 inches (32.4 × 24.8 cm) Sheet: 13 9/16 × 10 11/16 inches (34.5 × 27.2 cm). The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009. © Estate of Paul Strand










































 and Wall Street, New York (1915),




Wall Street, New York, 1915 (negative); 1915 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Platinum print, Image: 9 3/4 × 12 11/16 inches (24.8 × 32.2 cm) Sheet: 9 15/16 × 12 11/16 inches (25.2 × 32.2 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 1975, gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980. © Estate of Paul Strand







a seemingly random arrangement of tiny figures passing before the enormous darkened windows of the Morgan Trust Company Building, which illustrates Strand’s fascination with the pace of life and changing scale of the modern city.

During the 1920s—a period often called “the Machine Age”—Strand became transfixed by the camera’s capacity to record the mesmerizing details of other machines. At this time his ideas about the nature of portraiture began to expand significantly. These new and varied interests can be seen in the sensuous beauty of close-up images of his wife, Rebecca Salsbury Strand, to cool, probing studies of his new motion picture camera, such as Akeley Camera with Butterfly Nut, New York (1922–23).


His ideas about portraiture also extended to his growing preoccupation with photographic series devoted to places beyond New York, such as the southwest and Maine, where he would make seemingly ordinary subjects appear strikingly new. The exhibition will look at Strand’s widening engagement with his fellow artists of the Stieglitz circle, placing his works alongside a group of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, as well as photographs by Stieglitz, who played an important role in launching Strand’s career. These juxtapositions will reveal the rich interaction between Strand and his friends and peers during this time.
Over the next several decades, Strand traveled widely in search of new subjects, seeking always to establish a broader role for photography. The exhibition will convey his growing interest in the medium’s unique ability to record the passage of time and the specific qualities of locale, as seen in




Elizabethtown, New Mexico (1930),

one of many photographs he made of abandoned buildings.

It will show Strand returning to a core motif—the portraiture of anonymous subjects—during the time when he lived in Mexico, from 1932 to 1934. This period abroad had a profound influence on him, deepening his engagement with leftist politics. Many of the works he created at this time, whether depicting individuals, groups of people, or even religious icons, convey in their exceptional compositions a deep empathy with his subjects. This can also be seen in his series devoted to Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula from the same decade.
By the 1940s, books would become Strand’s preferred form of presentation for his work, reflecting a synthesis of his aims both as a photographer and filmmaker, and offering him the opportunity to create multifaceted portraits of modern life. In his photographs of New England, Strand drew upon cultural history, conveying a sense of past and present in order to suggest an ongoing struggle for democracy and individual freedom. Images of public buildings, such as




Town Hall, New Hampshire (1946),


and portraits of people he met, including

Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont (1943),

 were reproduced inTime in New England. This book was published in 1950, the year Strand moved to France in response to a growing anti-Communist sentiment at home, and reflected his political consciousness. Strand described New England as “a battleground where intolerance and tolerance faced each other over religious minorities, over trials for witchcraft, over the abolitionists . . . It was this concept of New England that led me to try to find . . . images of nature and architecture and faces of people that were either part of or related in feeling to its great tradition.”

The exhibition will also highlight his project in Luzzara (1953), where he focused his attention on the everyday realities of a northern Italian village recovering from the miseries of war and fascism. This series is centered on images of townspeople, as seen in The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis) (1953),




The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis), 1953 (negative); mid to late 1960s (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image: 11 7/16 x 14 9/16 inches (29.1 x 37 cm) Sheet (irregular): 12 x 15 1/16 inches (30.5 x 38.3 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Hauslohner, 1972. © Estate of Paul Strand







































and fulfills his long-held ambition to create a major work of art about a single community. Strand’s photographs of Luzzara were published in Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village (1955).
In 1963, Strand was invited to Ghana at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah, its first president following the end of British rule. Strand, fascinated by Ghana’s democracy during these years, was excited to photograph a place undergoing rapid political change and modernization. He saw modernity in the efforts of a newly independent nation to chart its future unfolding simultaneously alongside traditional aspects of Ghanaian culture. Portraiture was central to the project, as seen in Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana (1964), in which a young schoolgirl balances books on her head.


Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana, 1964 (negative); 1964 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image: 7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4 cm) Sheet: 7 13/16 × 9 13/16 inches (19.9 × 24.9 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with The Henry McIlhenny Fund and other Museum funds, 2012. © Estate of Paul Strand







































The project led to the publication of Ghana: An African Portrait(1976),

In Strand’s later years, he would increasingly turn his attention close to his home in Orgeval, outside Paris, often addressing the countless discoveries he could make within his own garden. There he produced a remarkable series of still lifes. These were at times reflective of earlier work, but also forward-looking in their exceptional compositions that depict the beauty of myriad textures, free-flowing movement, and convey a quiet lyricism.

In addition to Strand’s still photography, the exhibition will present three of his most significant films, in whole or as excerpts. Manhatta (1921), his first film and an important collaboration with painter and photographer Charles Sheeler, will be shown in full. This brief non-narrative “scenic” is considered the first American avant-garde film. It portrays the vibrant energy of New York City, juxtaposing the human drama on the street with abstracted bird’s-eye perspectives taken from high buildings and scenes of the ferry and harbor, all punctuated by poetry from Walt Whitman.

Strand’s second film, Redes(1936), conveys the artist’s growing social awareness during his time in Mexico. Released as The Wave in the U.S., the film is a fictional account of a fishing village struggling to overcome the exploitation of a corrupt boss. Native Land (1942) is Strand’s most ambitious film. Co-directed with Leo Hurwitz and narrated by Paul Robeson, it was created after his return to New York when Strand became a founder of Frontier Films and oversaw the production of leftist documentaries. Ahead of its time in its blending of fictional scenes and documentary footage, Native Land focuses on union-busting in the 1930s from Pennsylvania to the Deep South. When its release coincided with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was criticized as out-of-step with the nation, leading Strand to return exclusively to still photography.

Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography is curated by Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with the assistance of Amanda N. Bock, Project Assistant Curator of Photographs. Barberie said, “Whether he was printing in platinum, palladium, gelatin-silver, making films, or preparing books, Strand was ultimately more than a photographer. He was a great modern artist whose eloquent voice addressed the widest possible audience, and this voice continues to resonate today.”
About Paul Strand

The last major retrospective dedicated to Strand was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1971. Born in New York City, Strand first studied with the social documentary photographer Lewis Hine at New York’s Ethical Culture School from 1907–09, and subsequently became close to the pioneering photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Strand fused these powerful influences and explored the modernist possibilities of the camera more fully than any other photographer before 1920. In the 1920s, Strand tested the camera’s potential to exceed human vision, making intimate, detailed portraits, and recording the nuances of machine and natural forms. He also created portraits, landscapes, and architectural studies on various travels to the Southwest, Canada, and Mexico. The groups of pictures of these regions, in tandem with his documentary work as a filmmaker in the 1930s, convinced Strand that the medium’s great purpose lay in creating broad and richly detailed photographic records of specific places and communities. For the rest of his career he pursued such projects in New England, France, Italy, the Hebrides, Morocco, Romania, Ghana, and other locales, producing numerous celebrated books. Together, these later series form one of the great photographic statements about modern experience.
The Paul Strand Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

In 2010, the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced that it had acquired the core collection of photographs by Paul Strand. Through the generosity of philanthropists Lynne and Harold Honickman, Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, and H.F. “Gerry” and Marguerite Lenfest, the Museum received as partial and promised gifts 1,422 images from The Paul Strand Archive at the Aperture Foundation, as well as 566 master prints from Strand’s negatives by the artist Richard Benson. The Museum also entered into an agreement with the Aperture Foundation to purchase an additional 1,276 photographs.
The Paul Strand Collection permits the study of Strand’s career with prints from the majority of his negatives, including variants and croppings of individual images. Together with other photographs already owned by the Museum, the acquisition makes the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s most comprehensive repository for the study of his work, just as it is for Marcel Duchamp and Thomas Eakins.
Catalogue




The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial scholarly catalogue, published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, featuring 245 plates and scholarly essays by Peter Barberie and Amanda N. Bock. The catalogue will also include the transcript of a roundtable conversation about Strand’s later projects and the broader photographic culture of the 1950s–70s, a comprehensive annotated chronology of Strand’s life and work, compiled by Samantha Gainsburg ($75.00). The international tour is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE and made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

More images from the exhibition:





White Fence, Port Kent, New York, 1916 (negative); 1945 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image and sheet: 9 5/8 × 12 13/16 inches (24.5 × 32.5 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 1975, gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980. © Estate of Paul Strand



Cobweb in Rain, Georgetown, Maine, 1927 (negative); 1927 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 - 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image: 9 11/16 x 7 13/16 inches (24.6 x 19.8 cm) Sheet: 9 15/16 x 8 1/16 inches (25.3 x 20.4 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition. The Paul Strand Collection, the Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001. © Estate of Paul Strand



Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, 1931 (negative); 1931 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Platinum print, Image: 5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (15 x 11.7 cm) Sheet: 6 1/2 x 5 inches (16.5 x 12.7 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2013. © Estate of Paul Strand



Toward the Sugar House, Vermont, 1944 (negative); 1944 (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image and sheet: 9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2010. © Estate of Paul Strand



Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France, 1951 (negative); mid to late 1960s (print). Paul Strand, American, 1890 1976. Gelatin silver print, Image: 7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4 cm) Sheet: 8 1/16 × 9 11/16 inches (20.4 × 24.6 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Thomas P. Callan and Martin McNamara, 2012. © Estate of Paul Strand




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Emil Nolde. Retrospective


From 5 March to 15 June 2014, the Städel Museum devoted a major exhibition to the lifework of one of the most prominent German Expressionists, Emil Nolde (1867–1956). 

The exhibition “Emil Nolde. Retrospective“  traveled to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark (4 July to 19 October 2014).

Although Nolde’s oeuvre has been represented in numerous special thematic exhibitions, the last retrospective to pay tribute to his work in Germany took place twenty-five years ago.
Some 140 works were on view, among them such masterworks as



Springtime in the Room (1904),

The Life of Christ (1911/12) and

Candle Dancers (1912),
but also a number of paintings and prints by the artist hitherto never shown outside of Seebüll.
The selection ranged from Expressionist landscapes to glittering nocturnal scenes of Berlin, exotic South Seas motifs, and religious depictions. Arranged in rough chronological order, the retrospective comprised paintings, watercolours and prints from all phases of the artist’s career. A special focus was directed towards Nolde’s early and late work, which past exhibitions have often tended to neglect. 

The show also provided insight into his experimentation with various manners of painting before finally arriving at his own characteristic style. Nolde’s loose and dynamic approach relegates the contours of the depicted figures to the background; vibrant colours are the primary means of expression.
Emil Nolde. Retrospective showcased the artist’s lifework in twelve sections covering the entire breadth of its thematic and media diversity. It began with Nolde’s early work. His first painting,

Mountain Giants (189596)
from the Nolde Foundation Seebüll, already anticipates the artist’s fascination with the fantastic and grotesque that would later turn up in his oeuvre again and again.
Nolde made his artistic breakthrough with paintings of flowers and gardens in which he experimented with the potential of colour. These motifs, considered characteristic of Nolde, were view along with figural works carried out during the same period. The latter are distinguished by a rather two-dimensional painting manner, as exemplified by the major composition Free Spirit (1906).
Nolde’s approach to abstraction was seen in the Autumn Seas series (1910). The motif of the wild sea was one that would preoccupy him all his life. The views of thunderous waves beneath a dramatic sky were executed in a wooden shed the artist had built for himself directly on the beach on the Baltic Sea island of Alsen.
That “studio” is where Nolde also carried out a number of his early Biblical and mythological scenes shown in the subsequent room. Religious subjects are among the brightest highlights in his oeuvre.
Nolde realized Old and New Testament motifs – for example the




Burial (1915)

 – with vivid colours and a two-dimensional application of paint.
After the Nazis had confiscated this nine-part Biblical cycle – Nolde’s magnum opus – from the Museum Folkwang in Essen, it was prominently featured in the first room of the defamatory Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich.
Nolde’s observations of Berlin, where he lived half of every year from 1905 onwards, were also on view.. Masterworks of German Expressionism such as
In the Coffeehouse (1911)
from the Museum Folkwang in Essen and



Dancer in a Red Dress (1910)
from the Kunsthalle Emden portray the boisterous nightlife in the German metropolis.
For the first time, these works were being presented alongside political and socio-critical paintings by the artist such as


Soldiers (1913) and
Battlefield (1913).
It was in Berlin as well that Nolde became interested in non-European aesthetics and art, the subject of the next room. The painting Exotic Figures (Fetishes I) (1911) is based on drawings Nolde made of objects on display at the Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde (Royal Ethnological Museum).
The show will continue on the upper floor of the exhibition annex with the works executed during and after Nolde’s participation in an expedition of the Reichskolonialamt (Imperial Colonial Office) to New Guinea. 

The fiery palette of Tropical Sun (1914) from the collection of the Nolde Foundation Seebüll manifests the artist’s longing for a natural idyll untouched by Western civilization. The section on the South Seas will be followed by a presentation of Nolde’s works of the years 1915 to 1932, a period in which he concentrated on motifs in his native region of Northern Schleswig. There he portrayed the unbridled natural force of the sea as well as his flower garden, which – in works such as Close Evening (1930) – he juxtaposed with the bleak Nordic scenery. He also painted watercolours of flowers in rich abundance, great variety and gay hues. The exhibition will spread out a vivid tapestry with altogether twenty such paintings hung closely side by side.

 In addition to flowers, one of Nolde’s main interests in this phase was fantastic motifs which, like the Sea Woman (1922), reveal the influence of Arnold Böcklin. 

Among the works distinguished by their grotesque subjects is the watercolour Animal and Woman (1931–1935) from the Fantasies series, which in our show will form a transition to the watercolours that came to be known as the Unpainted Pictures. Nolde executed these exceptional watercolour compositions from 1938 onwards during the period of the National Socialist dictatorship. 

In 1941 he was comprehensively prohibited from practicing his profession: he could no longer present his works in public or sell them. He already began transposing works from the Unpainted Pictures series into oil as early as 1938. 

The subsequent room will be devoted to a selection of these paintings. To this day, many of the works based on the Unpainted Pictures have never been presented in public, for example Spring in Autumn (1940). 

In keeping with the chronology, the last section of the show will focus on the final phase of Nolde’s life from 1946 to 1956. In his late works, expressive depictions of nature and landscape play a decisive role. The exhibition will conclude with Troubled Sea (1948) from the Kunsthalle zu Kiel.
Emil Nolde was born on 7 August 1867 in the village of Nolde near the German- Danish border as Hans Emil Hansen. Following elementary school he completed an apprenticeship as a wood sculptor, also taking instruction in commercial draughtsmanship. 

From 1892 onwards, Nolde taught colour and ornamental draughtsmanship at the Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum (Museum of Industry and the Trades) in Sankt Gallen. The great commercial success of his Mountain Postcards enabled him to embark on a career as a painter in Munich in 1897. In the years that followed, until 1902, Nolde took classes at various private art schools in Munich, Paris and Copenhagen, and made the acquaintance of Scandinavian artists. 

In 1902 he married the Danish actress Ada Vilstrup. On that occasion he changed his name to Nolde after his native village. He executed his first garden painting in 1903; from 1906 onwards he devoted himself to that subject with particular intensity. 

In 1903 the Noldes moved to the Baltic Sea island of Alsen, though starting in 1905 they spent half of every year for the most part in Berlin. 

In 1906 Nolde became a member of the “Brücke” artists’ group, to which he belonged for eighteen months; in 1908 he joined the Berlin Secession, from which he was excluded in 1910, however, owing to disagreements with Max Liebermann. 

Beginning in 1912, Nolde’s works began to receive wide public attention in Germany; they came to be shown far and wide and were regularly reviewed in the arts sections of the newspapers. By the end of the 1920s, twenty-one museums had paintings by Nolde in their collections. After his participation in the “Medical-Demographic German-New-Guinea Expedition” of the Reichskolonialamt in 1913, his compositions began to incorporate motifs of the South Seas. From 1923 onwards his works received international attention. 
The National Socialist assumption of power brought about a major break in Emil Nolde’s career. He and his wife welcomed the new regime with high hopes, already submitting an application for admission to the nationalistic Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur (Militant League for German Culture) in 1933 – which, however, was rejected. 

The following year Nolde joined the Nationalsozialistische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (National Socialist Association) of Northern Schleswig (NSAN) which was later among the founding parties of the National Socialist Party in Northern Schleswig (NSDAPN). Numerous letters and documents have survived from this period, documenting the artist’s desire for involvement. 

Despite his efforts, however, he was not able to realize his objectives. On the contrary, in 1937 1,102 of his works were confiscated from public collections, and 47 of his works, including 33 paintings, were subsequently shown in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. In 1941, he was moreover barred from the “Reichskammer der bildenden Künste” (Reich Chamber of Visual Arts) and prohibited from practising his profession. 

Between 1938 and 1945 he executed the Unpainted Pictures workgroup, consisting of oil paintings after his own watercolors

Following World War II he received numerous distinctions, for example an award for his graphic work at the XXVth Venice Biennale. 

Nolde died in 1956 at the age of eighty-eight.

More images here