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South Sea Islander (Südsee-Insulaner II)

Emil Nolde

European Art

Like many Expressionist artists, Emil Nolde had an interest in the art and people of what many European modernists referred to at the time as “primitive” cultures. In 1913 Nolde and his wife enthusiastically accepted an invitation from the German government to join an ethnographic and demographic expedition to New Guinea, Germany’s main colonial territory in the Pacific. He spent a year there and made numerous drawings and watercolors of the people he encountered. This vivid lithograph of a young man is based on studies he made in New Guinea.

Decades later, Nolde had more works confiscated and denounced by the Nazis as “degenerate” than any other artist. This caused him particular dismay because he was himself an ardent anti-Semite and remained a member of the Nazi Party through 1945. He downplayed this part of his biography, as did much of the literature surrounding him, and it has only recently been openly examined.
MEDIUM Color lithograph on wove paper
  • Place Made: Germany
  • DATES 1915
    DIMENSIONS image: 16 15/16 × 13 1/8 in. (43 × 33.3 cm) sheet: 22 7/8 x 16 15/16 in. (58.1 x 43 cm)
    INSCRIPTIONS Upper left in graphite: "Probedruck"; lower left in graphite: "unserem lieben Sauerland im Krieg--Feb. 1916); lower right in graphite: "Emil Nolde"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    EDITION Edition: Trial proof
    CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
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