Emil Nolde Kopf [Head] 1913 © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll


Born 1867
Died 1956
Nationality German

Emil Hansen was born in Nolde, a town which is now on the Danish side of the Danish-German border. In his late thirties, he changed his surname to Nolde. His style was highly influential for younger expressionist painters such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Nolde was interested in art from the African continent, the Pacific and the Americas but also intent on creating a style of painting that was specifically German. From 1906 to 1908, he was a member of Die Brücke (The Bridge) group of expressionist artists, but he preferred on the whole not to be associated with a group.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms

Die Brücke (The Bridge)

Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a German Expressionist group based in Dresden, then Berlin, from 1905-1913. The name indicates the influences on their work, with their art viewed as a bridge between the past, present and future. They are noted for their revival of the woodcut print.

Degenerate Art

The term Degenerate Art ('Entarte Kunst' in German), was coined in the 1930s by the Nazis to ridicule modern art that did not fit with Hitler’s vision'. Confiscated by the German government, exhibitions of 'Degenerate' art took place in cities including Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig. In addition to this ridicule, the Nazi's banned artists branded with the term from exhibiting or holding teaching posts.


A style that made an impact in the arts in the 1920s, particularly in Germany. Expressionists abandoned realistic, accurate representations in favour of exaggerations and distortions of line and colour that were intended to carry far greater emotional impact.


A term used to describe art that employs ‘primitive’ elements or forms. Today the term ‘primitive’ is often deemed as degrading when applied to non-Western cultures, so is frequently placed in quotation marks.