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Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Indische Tänzerin
signed ‘Emil Nolde’ (center right); signed again and titled 'Emil Nolde: Indische Tänzerin' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
34 ¼ x 39 5/8 in. (86.7 x 100.4 cm.)
Painted in 1917
Provenance
Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner, Berlin and Detroit (by 1930).
Brigitta Valentiner Bertoia, Barto, Pennsylvania (by descent from the above).
Siegfried Adler, Montagnola, Switzerland (1973).
Peter and Gudrun Selinka, Ravensburg (1974).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1996.
Literature
The Artist's Handlist, 1930.
Letter from W.R. Valentiner to E. Nolde, 15 December 1931.
M. Heiden, "Neue Deutsche Kunst im Detroit Institute of Arts" in Museum der Gegenwart, vol. 2, no. 1, 1931, pp. 13-22 (illustrated).
M.E. Benson, "Emil Nolde" in Parnassus, vol. 5, no. 1, 1933, pp. 12-14 and 25 (illustrated).
P. Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1957, p. 290 (illustrated, pl. 129; titled South Sea Dancers).
“100 Jahre Kunst in Deutschland” in Ärzte-Magazin, no. 22, 1985, p. 6 (illustrated in color).
THOMAE-Zeitung, no. 1/2, 1989, p. 12 (illustrated in color).
M. Urban, Emil Nolde: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, 1915-1951, London, 1990, vol. II, p. 145, no. 766 (illustrated).
“Emil Nolde: Retrospektive” in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, May 1994, p. 37, no. 119.
“Glühende Fremdheit” in Münchner Merkur, March 2002 (illustrated in color).
“Abglanz von farbigem Leben” in Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 2002 (illustrated in color).
“Von der Waterkant ins Paradies” in Abendzeitung, March 2002 (illustrated in color).
“Emil Nolde und die Südsee” in Donaukurier, March 2002 (illustrated in color).
Diners Club Magazine, April 2002, p. 47 (illustrated in color).
Venus, May 2002.
Top Magazine, Munich, vol. 1, no. 02 (illustrated).
DB Mobile, April 2002 (illustrated in color).
“Dieses unbändige Leuchten der Landschaften: Poesie in Fläche und Linie: Das Schlossmuseum Murnau wartet mit einer Privatsammlung von Kandinsky bis Kirchner auf” in Oberbayerisches Volksblatt, July 2006.
“Dieses unbändige Leuchten der Landschaften: Poesie in Fläche und Linie: Das Schlossmuseum Murnau wartet mit einer Privatsammlung von Kandinsky bis Kirchner auf” in Münchner Merkur, July 2006.
J. Voss, "Drei neue Bücher über Emil Nolde: Meine Kunst ist deutsch, stark, herb und innig" in Aktuelle Kulturnachrichten Feuilleton, 24 August 2017 (illustrated in color; with incorrect provenance).
Exhibited
The Detroit Institute of Arts (on loan).
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Modern German Art, May-June 1930, no. 29.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Modern German Painting and Sculpture, March-April 1931, p. 32, no. 70 (illustrated).
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Harvard Society: Masterpieces from the Berlin Museums, 1948.
Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Upstairs Gallery, Harris Hall, Some German Expressionists, November 1954.
Beverly Hills, Paul Kantor Gallery, W.R. Valentiner Collection: German Expressionists, 1956.
Raleigh, Museum of Art, In Memory of W.R. Valentiner, Masterpieces of Art, April-May 1959, p. 179, no. 132 (illustrated, p. 212).
Detroit, The J.L. Hudson Gallery, The W.R. Valentiner Memorial Exhibition, November-January 1964, no. 34 (illustrated in color).
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museums; Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde and Kunsthalle Ko¨ln, Emil Nolde: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik, February-April 1973, p. 55, no. 77 (illustrated, pl. 59).
Ravensburg, Städtische Galerie Altes Theater, Expressionismus: Malerei und Grafik, November-December 1980, p. 94 (illustrated in color, pp. 94-95).
Ingelheim am Rhein, 100 Jahre Kunst in Deutschland 1885-1985, April-June 1985, p. 39, no. 14 (illustrated in color).
Stuttgart, Würtembergischer Kunstverein, Künstler in Deutschland: Individualismus und Tradition, September 1986, p. 351 (illustrated in color, p. 87).
Stuttgart, Würtembergischer Kunstverein and Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde, Emil Nolde, December 1987-February 1988, p. 242, no. 67.
Lugano, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Emil Nolde, March-June 1994, pp. 80 and 234, no. 48 (illustrated in color on the front cover; illustrated again in color, p. 81; illustrated again, p. 234).
Vienna, Kunstforum Bank Austria, Emil Nolde, December 1994-March 1995, p. 336, no. 40 (illustrated in color).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery and Copenhagen, Museum of Modern Art, Emil Nolde, December 1995-May 1996, p. 91 (illustrated in color, p. 94).
Ravensburg, Schloss Achberg, Expressive Kunst: Sammlung Selinka, May-October 1996, pp. 84 and 147, no. 84 (illustrated in color, p. 85).
Vienna, Kunstforum Bank Austria and Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Emil Nolde und die Südsee, December 2001-May 2002, p. 365, no. 273 (illustrated in color).
Murnau, Schloßmuseum, Maler des “Blauen Reiter" –Paul Klee–Deutsche Expressionisten, July-November 2006, pp. 142 and 181, no. 57 (illustrated in color, pp. 143 and 181).

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Lot Essay

Saturated with vibrant, glowing color, Indische Tänzerin (‘Indian Dancer’) unites two of the leading themes of Emile Nolde’s art: dance and his seminal trip to the South Seas. Transporting the viewer to a far-away land, Nolde depicts a scene of intoxicating revelry: a dancer is in the throes of a performance, her arms undulating as her body sways to an imperceptible rhythm. Surrounding her are a group of seated figures, seemingly rapt by the dancer’s act. Using heightened, imaginary colour applied with a direct and gestural vigor–flaming tones of yellow and red, which collide with opulent purple and crimson–Nolde has created a scene of heady exoticism, conjuring a dynamic, intense and enveloping atmosphere.
Painted in 1917, when Nolde was in the midst of a prolific period of creativity, Indische Tänzerin was undoubtedly inspired by the artist’s voyage to New Guinea four years earlier. Like many artists working in the opening years of the 20th Century—Matisse and Kirchner to name but a few—Nolde was captivated by non-European cultures, finding in them an unfettered, primal and primitive approach to life and a novel form of direct and raw artistic expression. In Germany, he had spent time making studies of the artifacts on display in Berlin’s Royal Museum for Ethnology, and had acquired a large collection of figures and objects from Asia, Africa and Oceania. “My interest in all that was foreign, primeval and primally ethnic was exceptionally strong,” Nolde recalled. “I had to get to know the unknown” (quoted in Emil Nolde Retrospective, exh. cat., Städel Museum, Frankfurt, 2014, p. 39). In 1913, this yearning was made possible when the artist and his wife Ada were invited to join the “Medical-Demographic” expedition to the South Pacific. Together, the couple travelled through Russia, China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines to Southeast Asia, finally arriving in New Guinea, before returning home just under a year later in September 1914. Here, Nolde finally found himself able to experience the people, culture, and art of these indigenous cultures at first hand. During this time, Nolde painted and sketched both the native people and the landscape obsessively, working with a new vivacity, spontaneity and bold color palette.
Painted after his return home, Indische Tänzerin is steeped in the experiences of Nolde’s voyage. The seated figures in the foreground are based on a pastel that Nolde executed on his trip, and it has been suggested that the scene itself was inspired by a Burmese dancer that Nolde witnessed on his travels; he recalled, “In a square under palm trees a dancer danced one night, fiery and wild, her whirling, grotesque dances until she collapsed in a barely visible heap” (quoted in P. Vergo and F. Lunn, Emil Nolde, exh. cat., White Chapel Art Gallery, London, 1995, p. 91). The theme of dance is one that reoccurs throughout Nolde’s oeuvre. Nolde regarded dance as an uninhibited, unrestrained expression of life; man in its most primal state, free from affectations or civilized norms. As well as his seminal travels to the South Seas, he spent time both in Berlin and Paris, visiting the dance halls and cabarets that were central to nocturnal life in these modern metropolises. The modern forms of dance he witnessed captivated him; as he recalled later, “it was more the solo dance, the art dance that I particularly liked observing. The first dance experience may have been the Australian-born Saharet, whirling around wildly, her bunch of black hair coming open and transforming her into a fantastical being from a primeval world...In Paris I saw Loie Fuller in her dazzling serpentine dances, in green and silver...” (quoted in Nolde in Berlin: Dance Theatre Cabaret, exh. cat., Stiftung Seebüll Ada und Emil Nolde, 2007, p.107). Finding in these unbridled, unrestrained dances an expression of spontaneous, primal instinct, Nolde often included dancing women in his art, fusing his observations with his powerful imagination to create frenzied, color-filled and dynamic visions of ritualistic dance. Conjured with a combination of memory and imagination, Indische Tänzerin perfectly exemplifies this practice.
In Indische Tänzerin, Nolde situates the viewer within the scene, as if seated amidst the audience watching the dancer. In many ways, this compositional device is reminiscent of Paul Gauguin’s revolutionary depictions of life in Tahiti and the South Pacific. Gauguin was an artist who Nolde, along with many of his contemporaries, greatly admired. Like Gauguin, Nolde wanted to discover “first nature, completely untouched by any form of civilization” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 2014, p. 25). Wanting to free himself from the bounds of European civilization, in the closing years of the 19th Century, Gauguin set off in search of a primitive way of living, keen to leave behind his life in France and embrace a new life in which man and nature exist in simple harmony. Yet, while similar in their wish to find new inspiration to reinvigorate and revitalize their art, unlike Gauguin, Nolde had no desire to live or adopt the lifestyle of the primitive people of the countries he visited. With a deep-rooted attachment to his home on the German-Danish border, Nolde had no intention of leaving Europe, but was instead governed by a desire to record and observe the different races, landscapes, and way of life.

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