© Emil Nolde, Stacks outside a farm. Sunset, ca. 1928

Towards 1930: Nolde and the Origins of Art

In his landscapes from the 1920s and 1930s Nolde clearly expressed his close ties to the countryside of his native Schleswig-Holstein.

The marsh landscape and its farms is depicted repeatedly in Emil Nolde’s pictures, e.g. in a series of watercolours from the years leading up to 1930. They show the same subject in different seasons, clearly expressing the harmonious connection between farm and landscape.

A recurring motif

The farm’s long, horizontal shape is mimed by the lines of the landscape, whose openness is in turn accentuated by the soaring sky. The thatched roof, which can be viewed as a quintessential expression of the house as existential homestead, is linked to the landscape through both colour and form: the contours of the knoll on which the farm rests is echoed by the lines of the roof; the house seems to be growing out of the landscape, clearly signifying that it belongs here.

The spectator witnesses a process

In the watercolour Farm in Marsh Landscape. Summer from 1925, light breaks through the clouds above the farm, and the impression of a momentary lighting up of a specific place, this farm in this landscape, enhances the spectator’s sense that something central to the world is appearing before their eyes. The sense of witnessing a process whereby something is becoming visible is made stronger by Nolde’s use of watercolour’s liquid, washed-out properties: One senses that something in the image “floats out” or can be dimly discerned through the forms.

Emil Nolde, Farm in Marsh Landscape. Summer, 1925

© Emil Nolde, Farm in Marsh Landscape. Summer, 1925.

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Updated: 26.apr.2018
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