Emil Hansen was born in Nolde, a town which is now on the Danish side of the Danish-German border. He changed his surname to Nolde when he was in his late thirties. Nolde's style was highly influential for younger expressionist painters such as Kirchner. He loved the art of primitive peoples but was also interested in creating a style of painting that was specifically German. From 1906 to 1908, he was a member of the Brücke group of expressionist artists, but he preferred on the whole not to be associated with a group.