The work of Emil Nolde is associated almost immediately with images of vividly colorful flower gardens, wild, tumultuous ocean views and dramatic cloud formations, or the intense impressions of his South Sea travels before the First World War. Yet, another facet of his work – the fantastic and grotesque – remains largely unknown, though his four-volume autobiography and letters offer strong evidence of their decisive influence on his artistic production.
His first oil painting, Bergriesen [Mountain Giants](1895 ⁄ 96), and a series of alpine postcards depicting the Swiss Alps as human physiognomies, which earned him a reputation as a visual artist at the turn of the twentieth century, clearly reveal his keen interest in the fantastical. From these beginnings up to the time when he was forbidden to exercise his profession under the National Socialist regime, his oeuvre bears the traces of his turn away from reality to an alternative world of the grotesque.
Organized in close collaboration with the Nolde Stiftung Seebüll, the exhibition encompasses some 30 paintings and 80 works on paper, some of which will be shown to the public for the first time.