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Emil Nolde's close ties to Hamburg are being explored in a comprehensive display at Hamburger Kunsthalle
Emil Nolde (1867–1956), Schlepper auf der Elbe, 1910. Öl auf Leinwand, 71 x 89 cm. Sammlung Rauert in der Hamburger Kunsthalle © Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk. Photo: Elke Walford.

HAMBURG.- The city of Hamburg held great significance for the Expressionist artist Emil Nolde (1867–1956). Not only did he find inspiration for numerous artworks here, he also gained considerable recognition at an early stage of his career. Now, for the first time, Nolde’s close ties to the city are being explored in a comprehensive display of around 200 of his works, which include vibrantly coloured paintings and watercolours, atmospheric etchings and woodcuts as well as dynamic brush-and-ink drawings.

Nolde visited Hamburg regularly on his travels around Germany. He was fascinated by the bustling activity of the harbour and was also impressed by the wind and weather in the Hanseatic city, which for him represented the primal forces of life and nature. In 1910 he spent several weeks here, staying at the harbour in the St. Pauli district. Nolde captured his immediate impressions of his surroundings in over a hundred works produced in rapid succession during this time. The majority of these are in the collection of the Nolde Foundation Seebüll, and are now being presented in the city where they were created, alongside works from the holdings of the Hamburger Kunsthalle and loans from a number of public and private collections.

Exhibitions of Emil Nolde’s work have been held in Hamburg since 1907, and it was here that he also found his first supporters: private individuals and museums began to collect his work. Nolde and his wife Ada established close relationships with important figures in the city’s art scene such as Gustav and Luise Schiefler, Paul and Martha Rauert, Rosa Schapire, Gustav Pauli and Carl Georg Heise. The current exhibition also examines the close relationship between work, life, art and society at that time, the impact of which can still be felt today.

In its focus on one artist and one city, the exhibition Nolde in Hamburg deals with the growing reputation of one artist’s œuvre and with modernism’s breakthrough in Germany in exemplary fashion. The exhibition sheds light on the defamation of modernism during the time of National Socialism and reveals the complexity of the subject. A closer look at the way in which Nolde’s œuvre was treated during the changeful history of the Hamburger Kunsthalle reveals how the institution and its directors, with their different interests and convictions, had a lasting influence on the artist’s reception. Their engagement has left a lasting mark on the substantial Nolde-collection held at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

The fully illustrated catalogue includes scholarly essays, a catalogue of the Nolde-inventory and a foreword by Helmut Schmidt.

The exhibition is accompanied by a wide-ranging programme of related events, including lectures, discussions and guided tours of places in Hamburg where Nolde lived and worked.

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