54-90 | Modern Art

Painting - German


Emil Nolde , German , 1867-1956
Masks, 1911

Oil on canvas
Unframed: 28 3/4 x 30 1/2 inches (73.03 x 77.47 cm) Framed: 39 1/2 x 37 3/16 x 2 3/4 inches (100.33 x 94.46 x 6.99 cm)

Gift of the Friends of Art

Gallery Location: Not on view

Gallery Label

Gallery Label
Emil Nolde German, 1867-1956 Masks, 1911 Oil on canvas

Briefly a member of Die Brücke (The Bridge), the Dresden/Berlin-based group of German Expressionist artists, Emil Nolde wrote that he was interested in the "grotesque expression of power" and "elemental force."

Masks embodies these concerns. Here, the artist uses bold, expressive color applied with spontaneous strokes of the brush to heighten the energy and emotional intensity of the painting. Two carnival masks appear in the center of the image. Another, on the far left, was inspired by a Solomon Islands canoe prow, and the mask at the lower right depicts the shrunken head of a Yoruna Indian from the Mundurucu people of Brazil. Both the canoe prow and shrunken head are in the collection of Berlin's Museum of Ethnology, where Nolde studied and sketched them.

Gift of the Friends of Art 54-90

Gallery Label
Emil Nolde German, 1867-1956

Masks, 1911 Oil on canvas

Emil Nolde was one of the most important artists associated with German Expressionism. These artists felt deeply the psychological unrest and complexities of an impending world war. In the context of this upheaval, they looked, in part, to the art of non-European cultures for a more direct, visual expression of emotion. As in Masks, Nolde employs bold, expressive color, applied with spontaneous strokes of the brush, to heighten the energy and emotional intensity of the painting.

Masks is the embodiment of these concerns. Nolde wrote that he was interested in the "grotesque expression of power" and "elemental force." To this end, he studied the masks of various cultures, which are in the collection of Berlin's Museum of Ethnology. In Masks, two carnival masks appear in the center of the image. Another, on the far left, was inspired by a Solomon Islands canoe prow, and the mask at the lower right depicts the shrunken head of a Yoruna Indian from the Mundurucu people of Brazil.

Gift of the Friends of Art 54-90

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