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The Sea I, 1912

Emil Nolde

German, 1867-1956
Oil on canvas
29 x 35 in. (73.7 x 88.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

In the early 1910s Nolde painted a series of seascapes, pictures, as he described them, of “wildly heaving green waves,” inspired by a childhood on Germany’s North Sea coast and by one particularly violent crossing he had made as an adult. Among the exponents of German Expressionism—a term he found inadequate to the messianic mission of his art—Nolde was perhaps the most virtuosic painter. Here, for example, he conjured the foaming crests of waves with thick strokes of white paint, applied wet-into-wet, but rendered the fragile, billowing sailcloth with a transparent brown layer through which the texture of the canvas is plainly visible.

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