Emil Nolde, Meer und Himmel, 1937 | © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll

Emil Nolde

The artwork Meer und Himmel by Emil Nolde was part of the exhibition Tell me about yesterday tomorrow (Nov. 28, 2019 until Oct. 18, 2020).

About the artist

Emil Nolde (born in Nolde in 1867) was an Expressionist painter known for his vibrant-colored landscapes, still lifes, and watercolors. His subjects range from religious motifs to flowers and variations on the North Frisian landscape. Nolde was a firm believer in the Hitler regime, joining the Nazi Party in 1933. Nonetheless, over 1,000 of his works were seized in 1937. He was ostracized as a “degenerate” artist and expelled from the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts. Stylized as a member of the Resistance, Nolde received numerous honors and accolades after 1945. He died in 1956, at the age of 88, in his chosen hometown of Seebüll. Nolde died in Seebül in 1956.

Emil Nolde, c. 1955 | © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll

Meer und Himmel, 1937

Oil on Canvas, 74 x 101 cm

It has long been known that Emil Nolde was a committed antisemite and member of the Nazi Party. And yet, he was viewed for decades mainly as a victim of Nazi policies toward art, as he had more works seized and defamed as “degenerate” than any other artist of his day. Meer und Himmel is a painting from the period after Hitler seized power, when Nolde moved away from religious subjects with Jewish figures and focused mainly on still lifes and on depicting powerful Nordic natural forces. A similarly tempestuous seascape hung in German chancellor Angela Merkel’s offices for a long time. In the spring of 2019, after decades of debate surrounding Nolde’s relationship with National Socialism, Merkel returned her two Nolde pieces to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which had lent them to her.

Installation Meer und Himmel by Emil Nolde in the exhibition Tell me about yesterday tomorrow, 2019 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography