Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Although he joined the Nazi party in the early ’30s, Emil Nolde’s paintings were confiscated from the museums and his work was slandered as Degenerate Art.
From 1941 on, he was prohibited from making art at all. Nolde, who was then in his seventies, secretly continued to paint…dangerous paintings, indeed.
He turned to watercolor for fear that even the smell of oil paints might give away his covert paintings. He lent many of his works to friends for safekeeping, in order to protect himself and his art from Gestapo raids. Others he hid in the floorboards of his house.
Nolde called these small watercolor sketches, the size of postcards, “my unpainted pictures,”… “unpainted” in the sense that they did not officially exist and were not supposed to exist.
Seventy years later, these gorgeous, diverse, and quietly moving “unpainted pictures” continue to be nothing short of brilliant.
Graham Nickson (born 1946)
Twenty-six years old and a new recipient of the prestigious Prix de Rome, Graham Nickson arrived in Italy to train at the distinguished British School at Rome.
Graham Nickson: “A terrible thing happened when I first got to Rome, and it was probably one of the most important events in my life.
The year was 1972 and I arrived in Rome in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was raining so badly that it was impossible to find a hotel. I had arrived way before the time I could take over my studio.
I had brought with me a portfolio of about two hundred of my best gouaches and drawings. I left the portfolio in the car, because it was raining so hard. Twenty minutes later, when the rain had subsided slightly I found that somebody had put a brick through the window and stolen the lot. There I was, with all my history gone.
After simmering down a couple of days, I went up on the roof of the Academy. I was looking at this dramatic sky, and it occurred to me that the most dangerous thing would be to paint the sunset, and then the sunrise because it’s so clichéd, so hackneyed. Even at its best, it had already been done so well by Turner, Nolde, and other artists.
Before I knew it I had painted every dawn and sunset for two years.”
Graham Nickson is the Dean of the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, New York City. The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds eleven of Nickson’s works in their permanent collection.
Nickson continues to paint evening and morning skies on a regular basis.
Graham Nickson has an exhibition through May 22, 2015, at the Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York City, www.bettycuninghamgallery.com.
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