Art-technological Research on the Oeuvre of Emil Nolde

»I would so much like my work to grow out of the material …«
Letter by Emil Nolde to Gustav Schiefer, 20 October 1906

Between 2018 and 2021, a joint project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will be devoted to the painting technique and the materials used by the Expressionist artist Emil Nolde. The partners in this multidisciplinary research project are the Doerner Institut of the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich (co-ordination), the Stiftung Seebüll Ada and Emil Nolde (Nolde Foundation Seebüll), and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, in co-operation with the University of Hamburg and the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Dresden.

Emil Nolde (born Hans Emil Hansen, 1867–1956) is undisputedly one of the best-known and most important representatives of German Expressionism. The Nolde Foundation Seebüll, as the manager of the Nolde estate, looks after the artist's former home and workplace, including an extensive collection of Nolde’s works, as well as an archive of about 25,000 documents and other items. Now, through a technological evaluation of the artist’s archive and the studio contents, as well as extensive imaging, analytical and other technological investigations of around 50 paintings from the collections in Seebüll, Hamburg and Munich, Emil Nolde’s techniques and materials are being explored for the first time. Although the study of painting techniques has successfully led to the clarification of a wide variety of art-historical and cultural-historical questions in numerous artists of the Modern period, the systematic, art-technological recording of large complexes of works is still rare. The project will thus broaden the art-historical research into the ‘invisible’ art-technological perspective on work processes, the choice of paints and chronological developments in the course of Nolde’s long artistic career. In addition to a technical symposium, the project is planned to include a presentation of important research results in a modular form of exhibition.