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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 04/10/2019 | 3088 Views | 1 | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Emil Nolde and National Socialism: An Artist's Myth in the Twentieth Century

Image and Context | Episode 1

Emil Nolde was not only one of the most important exponents of Expressionism; he also had a great knack for staging heroic tales. For a long time after 1945 Nolde was considered a victim of the Nazis, having seen his work declared “degenerate” and being debarred from working as an artist, yet there are justified doubts about this story – doubts that have surfaced not only recently. It was established long ago that Nolde was anti-Semitic and openly supported the Nazis. Yet how, then, can we explain the emergence of the longstanding notion that this was an artist who had been ostracized, who had embarked on an “inner emigration” and who painted in isolation? Dr. Bernhard Fulda, a historian at the University of Cambridge, bases his research project around this question. Access, for the first time, to hitherto unpublished documents has been the starting point for a new perspective on the myth surrounding the artist who was Emil Nolde.



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The project 
This project will comprehensively appraise Emil Nolde’s relationship with Nazism for the first time, simultaneously connecting it to the history of Nolde’s reception, particularly after 1945. It will be the first study to be able to evaluate the rich source material, within the above context, from the Seebüll Ada and Emil Nolde Foundation, thus shedding light on the role played by the foundation in communicating Nolde’s art and his person. Despite the fact that Nolde’s sympathy with Nazism remained unbroken right up until 1945, after the War Nolde became the very personification of the persecuted artist. Alongside the Nolde Foundation in Seebüll, an important factor here was the missionary zeal and cultural patriotism demonstrated by influential museum directors such as Carl Georg Heise, Alfred Hentzen and Werner Haftmann, along with the specific media dynamics and the conventions in reporting on art in post-War Germany. To the above end, the project will investigate museum policies, exhibition practices, presentation strategies and the reception of exhibitions, and will place the latter in the wider context that was the competing systems during the Cold War and the process of coming to terms with Germany’s cultural past.



Project management
Dr. Bernhard Fulda

Hasso Bräuer

Maximilian Schecker

Maximilian Schecker

Series created by
Gisela Graichen and Peter Prestel


All episodes
Image and Context
Episode 1
Artist and Artist's Image: Sources of Self-Stylisation
Episode 2
Artist and Posterity: Stylisation and Myth-Making
Episode 3
The General Interview with Dr Bernhard Fulda
Episode 4


by Jörg Merz | 19.05.2019 | 00:53
Sehr geehrter Herr Fulda, sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

mit großem Interesse habe ich die Folgen über Nolde und den Nationalsozialismus gehört und gesehen. Die Selbst- und Fremdstilisierungen eines (bedeutenden) Künstlers sind keine isolierten Phänomene. Noch wirkungsvoller kommen sie bei Picasso zum Ausdruck. Ich erlaube mir, dazu auf meine Studie "Guernica oder Picassos Abscheu vor der militärischen Kaste" (Freiburg 2017) hinzuweisen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Jörg Merz

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