Painting: Fulfilling Fear

In 1933, the aging Emil Nolde became the only major German expressionist to join the Nazi Party. Much good it did him. For all his Frisian peasant conservatism, the Nazis soon called him a "degenerate" modern artist and stripped his works from German museums. In 1941, he was forbidden to sell his art or even to paint. At 73, Nolde retreated from Berlin to his summer home in Seebull, not far from his birthplace on the North Sea coast—but he did not stop painting. To his diary he revealed: "I still hold my...

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