Nolde’s Painting Techniques – Joint Research Project
“I would so much like my work to grow out of the material …”
Art-technological research on the œuvre of Emil Nolde
The joint research project “I would so much like my work to grow out of the material …”, carried out between 2018 and 2022, focussed on the Expressionist Emil Nolde’s painting techniques and the artist’s materials. It was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The partners in this multidisciplinary research project were the Doerner Institut, Munich (co-ordination), the Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde in North Frisia and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, in cooperation with the Universität Hamburg and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden.
Emil Nolde (1867–1956) is undisputedly one of the best-known and most important representatives of German Expressionism. The Nolde Foundation Seebüll, that manages the Nolde estate in the artist’s former house and place of work, holds the most extensive collection of Nolde’s works, as well as an archive with some 25,000 documents and objects. Emil Nolde’s painting techniques and materials were analysed for the first time through a technological evaluation of the artist’s archive and the studio contents, and through the extensive technological, imaging and analytical examination of around 45 paintings from all creative periods in the collections in Seebüll, Hamburg and Munich. Such a cohesive and extensive holding of works, realia and sources is rare and offered a unique possibility to carry out a systematic, art-technological assessment of a complex of works. As such, this combined research project has broadened art-historical research on Nolde to include the perspective of painting techniques.
After the conclusion of the project, the most important findings of this research were presented at a specialist symposium and are to be seen in exhibitions in Seebüll, Hamburg and Munich and in the respective accompanying publications.