April 30, 2023 - September 4, 2023
Emil Nolde's (1867-1956) small-format, intensely-colored watercolors, his so-called Unpainted Pictures, are a central part of the myth of the persecuted artist. The expressionist is one of the best-known “degenerate artists”. No other painter had so many works confiscated during National Socialism. At the same time, Nolde had been a member of the National Socialist Working Group North Schleswig (NSAN) since 1934 and did not lose his faith in the Nazi regime until the end of the war.
The exhibition Emil Nolde: Myth and Reality. The Unpainted Pictures aims to continue the efforts to shed light on the role of the artist, which were work begun in the past decade, by presenting and publishing, for the first time in a monographic exhibition, of the Unpainted Pictures the history of the creation of the series of works on the basis of the latest art historical research in close connection with the artist's biography.
The watercolors of the Unpainted Pictures, more than 1,300 works on paper, are closely entangled with the assumption that they were created during Nolde's professional ban between 1941 and 1945, when he was supposedly only able to paint in secrecy. In reality, some of the small watercolors were created as early as 1930, before the National Socialists came to power, and Nolde continued to work artistically between 1941 and 1945 - there was no ban on painting!
The life and work of Emil Nolde, an artist who after 1945 was idealized as a mere follower with inner resistance and victim of National Socialist cultural policy, has been undergoing a constantly transparent critical reassessment since 2013.
Emil Nolde: Myth and Reality. The Unpainted Pictures is the major special exhibition in 2023 at the Lyonel Feininger Museum and, in addition to 55 loans from the Seebüll Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation, will also feature two special editions of the artist's autobiographical memoirs, which are being presented for the first time in Central Germany, as well as a painting from the Kracht Collection, which has been on permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale) since 2004.