Files in this item



application/pdf9904587.pdf (15MB)Restricted to U of Illinois
(no description provided)PDF


Title:The Religious Paintings of Emil Nolde, 1909-1912
Author(s):Sieger, William Benjamin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Franciscono, Marcel
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, General
Abstract:Few doubt the significance of Emil Nolde among the artists in Germany now loosely called Expressionists. From 1909 until his death in 1956, he painted over fifty pictures with religious subjects. Arguably, they represent the premier accomplishment of a long and prodigious career, one rich in a variety of media--oil painting, water color, and the various graphic arts. Of the religious paintings, the first twenty five, painted between 1909 and 1912, have a special place among his works. They include some of his largest and most elaborate paintings, among them a triptych, Legend: Saint Mary of Egypt, and the nine-piece Life of Christ; they fully chronicle his evolution to his mature, Expressionistic style between 1909 and 1912; and they incorporate an elaborate vocabulary of stylistic devices and motifs generally not found elsewhere in his works. Perhaps most importantly, little like them exists after the advent of modernism, with its general disdain for literary subjects. Nolde himself recognized the significance of his early religious paintings. To him they formed the pivotal point in the transformation of his idiom from Impressionist to Expressionist--"the turn from external optical stimulus to experienced inner," as he wrote in the second volume of his memoirs. However, remarkably little thorough scholarship exists on Nolde--his religious paintings or otherwise--and he himself managed to set the tone for much of this by publishing four volumes of memoirs. Here, Nolde presents himself as the quintessential, self-contained Romantic genius, isolated in the rural north, with little connection to the art world, events, or culture of his day. However, he was neither isolated artistically nor ahead of his era in a social sense--in fact, politically and socially he remained quite conservative. But he also could not have developed his radical style if he had remained entirely in and of the land of his roots. Careful consideration of Nolde's life and work reveal him to be less isolated and unique, but also a more complex and fascinating figure--one born in and retaining the values of a conservative and rural milieu, who nonetheless strived for the artistic vanguard. His religious paintings represent the clearest embodiment of this conflict between the progressive and the conservative, being works traditional in subject yet radical in style. For Nolde, art, life, and religion were inextricably joined, and the self-conception elaborated in his writings provides clues to the meaning of many of his religious paintings. But while Nolde's religious paintings have an important non-rational element that must remain forever ineffable--as Nolde and many writers rightly stress--they involve other important issues that, once addressed, provide a richer understanding of the man and his work. These include his relationship to the events and art world of his day, the relative influence of Nietzsche and German Romanticism, his relationship to German theology and the western tradition of religious art--particularly German Medieval and Renaissance religious art--and of course the nature and meaning of his subjects.
Issue Date:1998
Description:308 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9904587
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1998

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics