Emil Nolde (7 August 1867 – 13 April 1956) was a German painter and printmaker. One of the first Expressionists, he is considered to be one of the great watercolour painters of the 20th century. This exhibition, the first retrospective of the artist, brings together ninety painting and seventy watercolours, engravings and drawings at the Grand Palais.
Printemps dans la chambre, Emil Nolde 1904 Huile sur toile 88,5 x 73,5 cm. Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde Neukirchen, Allemagne. © Nolde Stiftung-Seebüll
The exhibition is presented in a chronological sequence divided into twelve themes (The Enchanted Mountain, A Country, Fighting Years, Paintings of bible stories and legends, Graphic Work, Berlin Night, World, Homeland, ”Fantasies” and “unpainted painting”, The Sea). For the general public, it will be a discovery ; and for connoisseurs, a unique opportunity to see paintings brought together from all over the world illustrating his entire oeuvre.
Initially working as a wood carver and ornamentist, Nolde came to painting later in life. He was trained in Munich and Paris in 1900 and quickly became known for his wild painting style whose style was close to that of Van Gogh.
Torn between his roots in Schleswig, on the Danish border, and his fascination for the metropolis of Berlin, between his taste for solitude and the spectacle of social life, this rough yet tender artist of peasant stock constructed a unique oeuvre which was often misunderstood.
Couple sur la plage (détail), Emil Nolde 1903 Huile sur toile 73,5 x 88,5 cm. Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde Neukirchen, Allemagne. © Nolde Stiftung-Seebüll
Nolde, who believed he incarnated the German spirit in modern painting, was nonetheless very badly treated when the Nazis came to power. His membership of the National Socialist Party in 1934 did not spare him from public defamation and he figured among the “degenerate” artists in the 1937 exhibition. Already seventy years old, he refused to submit to the aesthetic diktats of the regime and in 1941 was forbidden to paint altogether. He withdrew to Seebüll and secretly produced a thousand tiny watercolours. A few of these moving « unpainted images » are included in the exhibition.
But international recognition came swiftly after the war and Nolde was acclaimed during his lifetime as one of the most important artists of his time.
Nolde’s work is remarkable for its extraordinary combinations of colour, uncompromising line and unmatched narrative verve. The human being is his main concern, brilliantly presented in portraits, mother and child figures, and couples. Landscapes and still lifes are like bright dreams, in which contemplation of everyday life and nature is transfigured by his audacious colours. His religious subjects overturn all attempts made in this field in the modern period and try to find the roots of a primitive religion, close to man.
Sometimes scathing, sometimes serene, Nolde paints both the social theatre and all mankind. He lived to a great age for his time – 89 – traversed both world wars and has left an oeuvre which continues to dialogue with the most contemporary art work today.
Here’s all the essential information for the Emil Nolde exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris
When: 25th September 2008 – 19th January 2009
Where: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 3 avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8th arrondissement, métro Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau (lines 1 & 13). Bus n°s 28, 32, 42, 49, 72, 73, 80, 83 & 93
Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday from 10am – 10pm (8pm Thursdays). Special opening hours during school holidays: 25th October – 5th November, 7th – 10th November and from 20th December – 4th January, open from 9am to 11pm Tuesdays. Early closing (6pm) on 9th October and 24th & 31st December
Admission: adults 12 euros, concession 8 euros, free for under-13s. Also for the White Night event on 4th October from 7.30pm – 1.30am (doors close at 2am)
Official site : here
Wikipedia page for Emil Nolde: here