Emil Nolde and Christian Rohlfs are leading representatives of German Expressionism and have been part of Galerie Utermann’s program for over fifty years. The first major solo exhibition of Christian Rohlfs’ work was presented in collaboration with Helene Rohlfs back in 1972.

What unites both artists is that they remained independent in their style and visual imagery. The reason for comparing these two artists is to demonstrate the extent to which they are similar, but also the ways in which they differ. They were, of course, each familiar with the other's work, even though they only met each other briefly in Hagen through the prominent collector Karl Ernst Osthaus.


All texts by Dr. Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau

Emil Nolde and Christian Rohlfs are leading representatives of German Expressionism and have been part of Galerie Utermann’s program for over fifty years. The first major solo exhibition of Christian Rohlfs’ work was presented in collaboration with Helene Rohlfs back in 1972.

What unites both artists is that they remained independent in their style and visual imagery. The reason for comparing these two artists is to demonstrate the extent to which they are similar, but also the ways in which they differ. They were, of course, each familiar with the other's work, even though they only met each other briefly in Hagen through the prominent collector Karl Ernst Osthaus.


All texts by Dr. Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau

Emil Nolde and Christian Rohlfs are leading representatives of German Expressionism and have been part of Galerie Utermann’s program for over fifty years. The first major solo exhibition of Christian Rohlfs’ work was presented in collaboration with Helene Rohlfs back in 1972.

What unites both artists is that they remained independent in their style and visual imagery. The reason for comparing these two artists is to demonstrate the extent to which they are similar, but also the ways in which they differ. They were, of course, each familiar with the other's work, even though they only met each other briefly in Hagen through the prominent collector Karl Ernst Osthaus.


All texts by Dr. Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau

Emil Nolde
Christian Rohlfs

Emil Nolde
Christian Rohlfs

Emil Nolde
Christian Rohlfs

Emil Nolde
Christian Rohlfs

Emil Nolde
Christian Rohlfs

Galerie_Utermann_Nolde_Rohlfs_01

Christian Rohlfs

“For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen,” are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze 21:21). We do not know why Christian Rohlfs was so captivated by this passage from the Old Testament chronicling this rather significant event, or why he chose to depict the scene literally. Perhaps he was fascinated by the legendary figure of the king of Babylon and imagined how this young hero, clothed in royal robes, set off to secure his kingdom and lead his people to the walled city of Jerusalem, imagining the moment where he hesitates at a crossroads and has to decide which oracle to trust: the somewhat older woman with a covered head, or the younger advisor? We already know how well-versed in the Bible Rohlfs was; around the year 1910, at a quite advanced point in his artistic career, he began to depict biblical stories and parables about the mysterious ways of the Incarnation in his perceptive yet perhaps slightly melancholy manner. The prophetic story of Ezekiel is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Jewish people: the return to Jerusalem from captivity in the land of Babylon. Rohlfs does not situate this pivotal moment of prophecy in a specific location, focusing instead on the young man as he listens to the two women, visibly weighing the different outcomes they represent in his mind. As we can interpret from his rather communicative stance, the king is contemplating which is the right choice. In this simple yet clear depiction, Rohlfs allows us to participate in this mysterious encounter on the king’s momentous journey.

Christian Rohlfs

“For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen,” are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze 21:21). We do not know why Christian Rohlfs was so captivated by this passage from the Old Testament chronicling this rather significant event, or why he chose to depict the scene literally. Perhaps he was fascinated by the legendary figure of the king of Babylon and imagined how this young hero, clothed in royal robes, set off to secure his kingdom and lead his people to the walled city of Jerusalem, imagining the moment where he hesitates at a crossroads and has to decide which oracle to trust: the somewhat older woman with a covered head, or the younger advisor? We already know how well-versed in the Bible Rohlfs was; around the year 1910, at a quite advanced point in his artistic career, he began to depict biblical stories and parables about the mysterious ways of the Incarnation in his perceptive yet perhaps slightly melancholy manner. The prophetic story of Ezekiel is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Jewish people: the return to Jerusalem from captivity in the land of Babylon. Rohlfs does not situate this pivotal moment of prophecy in a specific location, focusing instead on the young man as he listens to the two women, visibly weighing the different outcomes they represent in his mind. As we can interpret from his rather communicative stance, the king is contemplating which is the right choice. In this simple yet clear depiction, Rohlfs allows us to participate in this mysterious encounter on the king’s momentous journey.

Christian Rohlfs

“For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen,” are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze 21:21). We do not know why Christian Rohlfs was so captivated by this passage from the Old Testament chronicling this rather significant event, or why he chose to depict the scene literally. Perhaps he was fascinated by the legendary figure of the king of Babylon and imagined how this young hero, clothed in royal robes, set off to secure his kingdom and lead his people to the walled city of Jerusalem, imagining the moment where he hesitates at a crossroads and has to decide which oracle to trust: the somewhat older woman with a covered head, or the younger advisor? We already know how well-versed in the Bible Rohlfs was; around the year 1910, at a quite advanced point in his artistic career, he began to depict biblical stories and parables about the mysterious ways of the Incarnation in his perceptive yet perhaps slightly melancholy manner. The prophetic story of Ezekiel is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Jewish people: the return to Jerusalem from captivity in the land of Babylon. Rohlfs does not situate this pivotal moment of prophecy in a specific location, focusing instead on the young man as he listens to the two women, visibly weighing the different outcomes they represent in his mind. As we can interpret from his rather communicative stance, the king is contemplating which is the right choice. In this simple yet clear depiction, Rohlfs allows us to participate in this mysterious encounter on the king’s momentous journey.

Christian Rohlfs

“For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen,” are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze 21:21). We do not know why Christian Rohlfs was so captivated by this passage from the Old Testament chronicling this rather significant event, or why he chose to depict the scene literally. Perhaps he was fascinated by the legendary figure of the king of Babylon and imagined how this young hero, clothed in royal robes, set off to secure his kingdom and lead his people to the walled city of Jerusalem, imagining the moment where he hesitates at a crossroads and has to decide which oracle to trust: the somewhat older woman with a covered head, or the younger advisor? We already know how well-versed in the Bible Rohlfs was; around the year 1910, at a quite advanced point in his artistic career, he began to depict biblical stories and parables about the mysterious ways of the Incarnation in his perceptive yet perhaps slightly melancholy manner. The prophetic story of Ezekiel is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Jewish people: the return to Jerusalem from captivity in the land of Babylon. Rohlfs does not situate this pivotal moment of prophecy in a specific location, focusing instead on the young man as he listens to the two women, visibly weighing the different outcomes they represent in his mind. As we can interpret from his rather communicative stance, the king is contemplating which is the right choice. In this simple yet clear depiction, Rohlfs allows us to participate in this mysterious encounter on the king’s momentous journey.

Christian Rohlfs

“For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen,” are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Eze 21:21). We do not know why Christian Rohlfs was so captivated by this passage from the Old Testament chronicling this rather significant event, or why he chose to depict the scene literally. Perhaps he was fascinated by the legendary figure of the king of Babylon and imagined how this young hero, clothed in royal robes, set off to secure his kingdom and lead his people to the walled city of Jerusalem, imagining the moment where he hesitates at a crossroads and has to decide which oracle to trust: the somewhat older woman with a covered head, or the younger advisor? We already know how well-versed in the Bible Rohlfs was; around the year 1910, at a quite advanced point in his artistic career, he began to depict biblical stories and parables about the mysterious ways of the Incarnation in his perceptive yet perhaps slightly melancholy manner. The prophetic story of Ezekiel is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Jewish people: the return to Jerusalem from captivity in the land of Babylon. Rohlfs does not situate this pivotal moment of prophecy in a specific location, focusing instead on the young man as he listens to the two women, visibly weighing the different outcomes they represent in his mind. As we can interpret from his rather communicative stance, the king is contemplating which is the right choice. In this simple yet clear depiction, Rohlfs allows us to participate in this mysterious encounter on the king’s momentous journey.

Blauer Tag am Meer, 1940 Öl auf Leinwand 56 x 70 cm

Emil Nolde
Blauer Tag am Meer, 1940
Oil on canvas
56 x 70 cm

People and portraits

People and portraits

People and portraits

People and portraits

Emil Nolde

pays homage to dance as one of the few forms of expression that are entirely subject to spontaneous emotion. For example, he finds dancing couples in ballrooms and cafés in Berlin, paints Wild tanzende Kinder (Wild Dancing Children) in 1910 and the rapturous Tanz um das Goldene Kalb (Dance around the Golden Calf) in 1912; he intensifies the ecstatic element with the painting Kerzentänzerinnen (Candle Dancers), also from 1912, translating scenes into color lithographs, or repeatedly conjuring up women swaying and dancing, as shown here. The two naked dancers in light poses no longer seem of this world; they embody the transition into the sphere of dreamlike fantasy. Nolde confers something doll-like upon the dancers and correspondingly shows them in the appropriate scale in front of violet and blue flowering hyacinths. It is not a wild performance, but rather the happy encounter between two young dancers. Nolde understands wonderfully how to lend a calm and intimate charm to the transitory moment between the dancers in front of the stage-like arrangement of flowerpots.

It is uncertain who is being portrayed in these two portraits. The majority of Nolde’s portraits and images of people cannot be attributed to individual persons. For Nolde: “People are my images. Laugh, cheer, cry, or be happy. You are my pictures, and the sound of your voices, the nature of your characters in all their diversity, you are the painter’s paint.”Of course, one can attempt to identify the striking profiles of the siblings in similar watercolors, paintings with references to these unknown people, such as the prominent chins, which jut forward slightly, the full-bodied lips under the pointed, expressive noses, and the different hair colors, one vermilion, the other a modest brownish violet. It is certainly important for Nolde to have characters available as models, to emphasize their distinctive profiles and essential features, but also to act freely, to devise faces in the classic portrait style similar to those who populate the scenes of his religious images.  

Emil Nolde

pays homage to dance as one of the few forms of expression that are entirely subject to spontaneous emotion. For example, he finds dancing couples in ballrooms and cafés in Berlin, paints Wild tanzende Kinder (Wild Dancing Children) in 1910 and the rapturous Tanz um das Goldene Kalb (Dance around the Golden Calf) in 1912; he intensifies the ecstatic element with the painting Kerzentänzerinnen (Candle Dancers), also from 1912, translating scenes into color lithographs, or repeatedly conjuring up women swaying and dancing, as shown here. The two naked dancers in light poses no longer seem of this world; they embody the transition into the sphere of dreamlike fantasy. Nolde confers something doll-like upon the dancers and correspondingly shows them in the appropriate scale in front of violet and blue flowering hyacinths. It is not a wild performance, but rather the happy encounter between two young dancers. Nolde understands wonderfully how to lend a calm and intimate charm to the transitory moment between the dancers in front of the stage-like arrangement of flowerpots.

It is uncertain who is being portrayed in these two portraits. The majority of Nolde’s portraits and images of people cannot be attributed to individual persons. For Nolde: “People are my images. Laugh, cheer, cry, or be happy. You are my pictures, and the sound of your voices, the nature of your characters in all their diversity, you are the painter’s paint.” Of course, one can attempt to identify the striking profiles of the siblings in similar watercolors, paintings with references to these unknown people, such as the prominent chins, which jut forward slightly, the full-bodied lips under the pointed, expressive noses, and the different hair colors, one vermilion, the other a modest brownish violet. It is certainly important for Nolde to have characters available as models, to emphasize their distinctive profiles and essential features, but also to act freely, to devise faces in the classic portrait style similar to those who populate the scenes of his religious images.  

Emil Nolde

pays homage to dance as one of the few forms of expression that are entirely subject to spontaneous emotion. For example, he finds dancing couples in ballrooms and cafés in Berlin, paints Wild tanzende Kinder (Wild Dancing Children) in 1910 and the rapturous Tanz um das Goldene Kalb (Dance around the Golden Calf) in 1912; he intensifies the ecstatic element with the painting Kerzentänzerinnen (Candle Dancers), also from 1912, translating scenes into color lithographs, or repeatedly conjuring up women swaying and dancing, as shown here. The two naked dancers in light poses no longer seem of this world; they embody the transition into the sphere of dreamlike fantasy. Nolde confers something doll-like upon the dancers and correspondingly shows them in the appropriate scale in front of violet and blue flowering hyacinths. It is not a wild performance, but rather the happy encounter between two young dancers. Nolde understands wonderfully how to lend a calm and intimate charm to the transitory moment between the dancers in front of the stage-like arrangement of flowerpots.

It is uncertain who is being portrayed in these two portraits. The majority of Nolde’s portraits and images of people cannot be attributed to individual persons. For Nolde: “People are my images. Laugh, cheer, cry, or be happy. You are my pictures, and the sound of your voices, the nature of your characters in all their diversity, you are the painter’s paint.” Of course, one can attempt to identify the striking profiles of the siblings in similar watercolors, paintings with references to these unknown people, such as the prominent chins, which jut forward slightly, the full-bodied lips under the pointed, expressive noses, and the different hair colors, one vermilion, the other a modest brownish violet. It is certainly important for Nolde to have characters available as models, to emphasize their distinctive profiles and essential features, but also to act freely, to devise faces in the classic portrait style similar to those who populate the scenes of his religious images.  

Emil Nolde

pays homage to dance as one of the few forms of expression that are entirely subject to spontaneous emotion. For example, he finds dancing couples in ballrooms and cafés in Berlin, paints Wild tanzende Kinder (Wild Dancing Children) in 1910 and the rapturous Tanz um das Goldene Kalb (Dance around the Golden Calf) in 1912; he intensifies the ecstatic element with the painting Kerzentänzerinnen (Candle Dancers), also from 1912, translating scenes into color lithographs, or repeatedly conjuring up women swaying and dancing, as shown here. The two naked dancers in light poses no longer seem of this world; they embody the transition into the sphere of dreamlike fantasy. Nolde confers something doll-like upon the dancers and correspondingly shows them in the appropriate scale in front of violet and blue flowering hyacinths. It is not a wild performance, but rather the happy encounter between two young dancers. Nolde understands wonderfully how to lend a calm and intimate charm to the transitory moment between the dancers in front of the stage-like arrangement of flowerpots.

It is uncertain who is being portrayed in these two portraits. The majority of Nolde’s portraits and images of people cannot be attributed to individual persons. For Nolde: “People are my images. Laugh, cheer, cry, or be happy. You are my pictures, and the sound of your voices, the nature of your characters in all their diversity, you are the painter’s paint.”Of course, one can attempt to identify the striking profiles of the siblings in similar watercolors, paintings with references to these unknown people, such as the prominent chins, which jut forward slightly, the full-bodied lips under the pointed, expressive noses, and the different hair colors, one vermilion, the other a modest brownish violet. It is certainly important for Nolde to have characters available as models, to emphasize their distinctive profiles and essential features, but also to act freely, to devise faces in the classic portrait style similar to those who populate the scenes of his religious images.  

Emil Nolde

pays homage to dance as one of the few forms of expression that are entirely subject to spontaneous emotion. For example, he finds dancing couples in ballrooms and cafés in Berlin, paints Wild tanzende Kinder (Wild Dancing Children) in 1910 and the rapturous Tanz um das Goldene Kalb (Dance around the Golden Calf) in 1912; he intensifies the ecstatic element with the painting Kerzentänzerinnen (Candle Dancers), also from 1912, translating scenes into color lithographs, or repeatedly conjuring up women swaying and dancing, as shown here. The two naked dancers in light poses no longer seem of this world; they embody the transition into the sphere of dreamlike fantasy. Nolde confers something doll-like upon the dancers and correspondingly shows them in the appropriate scale in front of violet and blue flowering hyacinths. It is not a wild performance, but rather the happy encounter between two young dancers. Nolde understands wonderfully how to lend a calm and intimate charm to the transitory moment between the dancers in front of the stage-like arrangement of flowerpots.

It is uncertain who is being portrayed in these two portraits. The majority of Nolde’s portraits and images of people cannot be attributed to individual persons. For Nolde: “People are my images. Laugh, cheer, cry, or be happy. You are my pictures, and the sound of your voices, the nature of your characters in all their diversity, you are the painter’s paint.”Of course, one can attempt to identify the striking profiles of the siblings in similar watercolors, paintings with references to these unknown people, such as the prominent chins, which jut forward slightly, the full-bodied lips under the pointed, expressive noses, and the different hair colors, one vermilion, the other a modest brownish violet. It is certainly important for Nolde to have characters available as models, to emphasize their distinctive profiles and essential features, but also to act freely, to devise faces in the classic portrait style similar to those who populate the scenes of his religious images.  

Emil-Nolde Liegende Frau und Kinder, 1938-45 Aquarell auf Papier 18 x 22,3 cm

Liegende Frau und Kinder, 1938-45
Watercolour on paper
18 x 22,3 cm

Mountain views
and landscapes

Mountain views
and landscapes

Mountain views
and landscapes

Mountain views
and landscapes

Emil Nolde

The first mountain views emerge in 1892, while Emil Nolde was working as a specialist teacher of color and ornamental drawing at the Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum in St. Gallen and was captivated by Swiss nature and the “lofty, glorious alpine world,” as he wrote in his memoirs. He records famous mountain peaks with personifying depictions on postcards and achieves his first artistic and also financial successes. Nolde left Switzerland for Munich in 1897, but would return in later years to seek out these dramatic mountain landscapes time and again. He captures the nature emerging from the winter snow under sparkling sunlight in watercolors, probably painting in situ. Nolde’s now sophisticated watercolor technique allows him to vary the moods of daytime in the mountains, to approach the mountain massif shrouded in blue mist from across green meadows, to lighten the encroaching darkness with the last vestiges of the evening sun, to sketch the mountain huts in front of a deep midnight blue, and to lull the bright snow into gentle waves between the shadows of the mountain ridges. Born in Schleswig-Holstein between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the artist was impressed by the Swiss Alps; he became a member of the Swiss Alpine Club, undertook numerous mountain tours, and also scaled Jungfrau, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn.

Emil Nolde

The first mountain views emerge in 1892, while Emil Nolde was working as a specialist teacher of color and ornamental drawing at the Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum in St. Gallen and was captivated by Swiss nature and the “lofty, glorious alpine world,” as he wrote in his memoirs. He records famous mountain peaks with personifying depictions on postcards and achieves his first artistic and also financial successes. Nolde left Switzerland for Munich in 1897, but would return in later years to seek out these dramatic mountain landscapes time and again. He captures the nature emerging from the winter snow under sparkling sunlight in watercolors, probably painting in situ. Nolde’s now sophisticated watercolor technique allows him to vary the moods of daytime in the mountains, to approach the mountain massif shrouded in blue mist from across green meadows, to lighten the encroaching darkness with the last vestiges of the evening sun, to sketch the mountain huts in front of a deep midnight blue, and to lull the bright snow into gentle waves between the shadows of the mountain ridges. Born in Schleswig-Holstein between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the artist was impressed by the Swiss Alps; he became a member of the Swiss Alpine Club, undertook numerous mountain tours, and also scaled Jungfrau, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn.

Emil Nolde

The first mountain views emerge in 1892, while Emil Nolde was working as a specialist teacher of color and ornamental drawing at the Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum in St. Gallen and was captivated by Swiss nature and the “lofty, glorious alpine world,” as he wrote in his memoirs. He records famous mountain peaks with personifying depictions on postcards and achieves his first artistic and also financial successes. Nolde left Switzerland for Munich in 1897, but would return in later years to seek out these dramatic mountain landscapes time and again. He captures the nature emerging from the winter snow under sparkling sunlight in watercolors, probably painting in situ. Nolde’s now sophisticated watercolor technique allows him to vary the moods of daytime in the mountains, to approach the mountain massif shrouded in blue mist from across green meadows, to lighten the encroaching darkness with the last vestiges of the evening sun, to sketch the mountain huts in front of a deep midnight blue, and to lull the bright snow into gentle waves between the shadows of the mountain ridges. Born in Schleswig-Holstein between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the artist was impressed by the Swiss Alps; he became a member of the Swiss Alpine Club, undertook numerous mountain tours, and also scaled Jungfrau, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn.

Emil Nolde

The first mountain views emerge in 1892, while Emil Nolde was working as a specialist teacher of color and ornamental drawing at the Industrie- und Gewerbemuseum in St. Gallen and was captivated by Swiss nature and the “lofty, glorious alpine world,” as he wrote in his memoirs. He records famous mountain peaks with personifying depictions on postcards and achieves his first artistic and also financial successes. Nolde left Switzerland for Munich in 1897, but would return in later years to seek out these dramatic mountain landscapes time and again. He captures the nature emerging from the winter snow under sparkling sunlight in watercolors, probably painting in situ. Nolde’s now sophisticated watercolor technique allows him to vary the moods of daytime in the mountains, to approach the mountain massif shrouded in blue mist from across green meadows, to lighten the encroaching darkness with the last vestiges of the evening sun, to sketch the mountain huts in front of a deep midnight blue, and to lull the bright snow into gentle waves between the shadows of the mountain ridges. Born in Schleswig-Holstein between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the artist was impressed by the Swiss Alps; he became a member of the Swiss Alpine Club, undertook numerous mountain tours, and also scaled Jungfrau, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn.

Christian Rohlfs

Thanks to his direct contact with the rapidly growing Folkwang collection—which in its first years included works by van Gogh, Gauguin, and the pointillists Seurat, Signac, Rysselberghe, and Luce—Rohlfs’s own painting takes a new turn. After Impressionist and Neoimpressionist phases, he soon joins the Junge Wilde, as the painters—who are one generation younger—of the artist community Die Brücke were called. Osthaus characterizes Rohlfs's paintings after 1906 with the words: “His painting is the music of colors.” Intensive yellow and red tones alternating expressively with the sunlight-faded gray of the softwood trunks creates an autumnal mass of color. Rohlfs frees himself from the Pointillists and finds an expressive dynamic with which he formally plunges into this fragment of a forest landscape. The provenance of the painting is noteworthy: it was first owned by Dr. Hermann Commerell, a friend and important supporter of Rohlfs, whom he met in 1907, and at whose invitation he was able to work from 1910 to 1912 in a Munich studio and in the Upper Bavarian foothills of the Alps. The following owner, Grace Borgenicht, is no less significant: she was one of the most distinguished art dealers in New York and in 1957 opened her gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan with works by predominantly German modern artists.

Christian Rohlfs

Thanks to his direct contact with the rapidly growing Folkwang collection—which in its first years included works by van Gogh, Gauguin, and the pointillists Seurat, Signac, Rysselberghe, and Luce—Rohlfs’s own painting takes a new turn. After Impressionist and Neoimpressionist phases, he soon joins the Junge Wilde, as the painters—who are one generation younger—of the artist community Die Brücke were called. Osthaus characterizes Rohlfs's paintings after 1906 with the words: “His painting is the music of colors.” Intensive yellow and red tones alternating expressively with the sunlight-faded gray of the softwood trunks creates an autumnal mass of color. Rohlfs frees himself from the Pointillists and finds an expressive dynamic with which he formally plunges into this fragment of a forest landscape. The provenance of the painting is noteworthy: it was first owned by Dr. Hermann Commerell, a friend and important supporter of Rohlfs, whom he met in 1907, and at whose invitation he was able to work from 1910 to 1912 in a Munich studio and in the Upper Bavarian foothills of the Alps. The following owner, Grace Borgenicht, is no less significant: she was one of the most distinguished art dealers in New York and in 1957 opened her gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan with works by predominantly German modern artists.

Christian Rohlfs

Thanks to his direct contact with the rapidly growing Folkwang collection—which in its first years included works by van Gogh, Gauguin, and the pointillists Seurat, Signac, Rysselberghe, and Luce—Rohlfs’s own painting takes a new turn. After Impressionist and Neoimpressionist phases, he soon joins the Junge Wilde, as the painters—who are one generation younger—of the artist community Die Brücke were called. Osthaus characterizes Rohlfs's paintings after 1906 with the words: “His painting is the music of colors.” Intensive yellow and red tones alternating expressively with the sunlight-faded gray of the softwood trunks creates an autumnal mass of color. Rohlfs frees himself from the Pointillists and finds an expressive dynamic with which he formally plunges into this fragment of a forest landscape. The provenance of the painting is noteworthy: it was first owned by Dr. Hermann Commerell, a friend and important supporter of Rohlfs, whom he met in 1907, and at whose invitation he was able to work from 1910 to 1912 in a Munich studio and in the Upper Bavarian foothills of the Alps. The following owner, Grace Borgenicht, is no less significant: she was one of the most distinguished art dealers in New York and in 1957 opened her gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan with works by predominantly German modern artists.

Christian Rohlfs

Thanks to his direct contact with the rapidly growing Folkwang collection—which in its first years included works by van Gogh, Gauguin, and the pointillists Seurat, Signac, Rysselberghe, and Luce—Rohlfs’s own painting takes a new turn. After Impressionist and Neoimpressionist phases, he soon joins the Junge Wilde, as the painters—who are one generation younger—of the artist community Die Brücke were called. Osthaus characterizes Rohlfs's paintings after 1906 with the words: “His painting is the music of colors.” Intensive yellow and red tones alternating expressively with the sunlight-faded gray of the softwood trunks creates an autumnal mass of color. Rohlfs frees himself from the Pointillists and finds an expressive dynamic with which he formally plunges into this fragment of a forest landscape. The provenance of the painting is noteworthy: it was first owned by Dr. Hermann Commerell, a friend and important supporter of Rohlfs, whom he met in 1907, and at whose invitation he was able to work from 1910 to 1912 in a Munich studio and in the Upper Bavarian foothills of the Alps. The following owner, Grace Borgenicht, is no less significant: she was one of the most distinguished art dealers in New York and in 1957 opened her gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan with works by predominantly German modern artists.

Sonnenbeschienenes Waldstück, 1910

Christian Rohlfs
Sonnenbeschienenes Waldstück, 1910
Oil on canvas
65 x 51 cm

Flower paintings

Flower paintings

Flower paintings

Flower paintings

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde’s flower paintings allow him the greatest possible freedom to let his color fantasies run wild. In these works, the artist can realize his ideas about color to the greatest degree of abstraction, without having to give up their attachment to nature. Nolde’s flower paintings are ideas with a loose connection to nature, so to speak, a permanent foundation of his work. Even though the subject of these paintings has remained constant over the years, every flower painting is completely different in its significance. The poppy, the tulip, the hyacinth, and the other flowers—they do not so much embody a botanical study as a mood between individual flower beings that stand like statues in the flower garden, waiting to please the artist. Nolde wants to get as close as possible to the luxuriant splendor of the delicate petals of the dainty poppy or the tulip. In order to realize his idea in watercolors, he captures the character of the individual plants, and is interested in applying paint and light with a certain amount of imprecision to expressly avoid the sharp detail of the bloom; Nolde wishes to shift the sphere of the irrefutable and the dematerialized into the distance. At times, Nolde contradicts himself: the Madonna figure is quite real and part of an extensive collection of devotional objects that the artist has collected over the years, which enliven his floral still lifes.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde’s flower paintings allow him the greatest possible freedom to let his color fantasies run wild. In these works, the artist can realize his ideas about color to the greatest degree of abstraction, without having to give up their attachment to nature. Nolde’s flower paintings are ideas with a loose connection to nature, so to speak, a permanent foundation of his work. Even though the subject of these paintings has remained constant over the years, every flower painting is completely different in its significance. The poppy, the tulip, the hyacinth, and the other flowers—they do not so much embody a botanical study as a mood between individual flower beings that stand like statues in the flower garden, waiting to please the artist. Nolde wants to get as close as possible to the luxuriant splendor of the delicate petals of the dainty poppy or the tulip. In order to realize his idea in watercolors, he captures the character of the individual plants, and is interested in applying paint and light with a certain amount of imprecision to expressly avoid the sharp detail of the bloom; Nolde wishes to shift the sphere of the irrefutable and the dematerialized into the distance. At times, Nolde contradicts himself: the Madonna figure is quite real and part of an extensive collection of devotional objects that the artist has collected over the years, which enliven his floral still lifes.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde’s flower paintings allow him the greatest possible freedom to let his color fantasies run wild. In these works, the artist can realize his ideas about color to the greatest degree of abstraction, without having to give up their attachment to nature. Nolde’s flower paintings are ideas with a loose connection to nature, so to speak, a permanent foundation of his work. Even though the subject of these paintings has remained constant over the years, every flower painting is completely different in its significance. The poppy, the tulip, the hyacinth, and the other flowers—they do not so much embody a botanical study as a mood between individual flower beings that stand like statues in the flower garden, waiting to please the artist. Nolde wants to get as close as possible to the luxuriant splendor of the delicate petals of the dainty poppy or the tulip. In order to realize his idea in watercolors, he captures the character of the individual plants, and is interested in applying paint and light with a certain amount of imprecision to expressly avoid the sharp detail of the bloom; Nolde wishes to shift the sphere of the irrefutable and the dematerialized into the distance. At times, Nolde contradicts himself: the Madonna figure is quite real and part of an extensive collection of devotional objects that the artist has collected over the years, which enliven his floral still lifes.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde’s flower paintings allow him the greatest possible freedom to let his color fantasies run wild. In these works, the artist can realize his ideas about color to the greatest degree of abstraction, without having to give up their attachment to nature. Nolde’s flower paintings are ideas with a loose connection to nature, so to speak, a permanent foundation of his work. Even though the subject of these paintings has remained constant over the years, every flower painting is completely different in its significance. The poppy, the tulip, the hyacinth, and the other flowers—they do not so much embody a botanical study as a mood between individual flower beings that stand like statues in the flower garden, waiting to please the artist. Nolde wants to get as close as possible to the luxuriant splendor of the delicate petals of the dainty poppy or the tulip. In order to realize his idea in watercolors, he captures the character of the individual plants, and is interested in applying paint and light with a certain amount of imprecision to expressly avoid the sharp detail of the bloom; Nolde wishes to shift the sphere of the irrefutable and the dematerialized into the distance. At times, Nolde contradicts himself: the Madonna figure is quite real and part of an extensive collection of devotional objects that the artist has collected over the years, which enliven his floral still lifes.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde’s flower paintings allow him the greatest possible freedom to let his color fantasies run wild. In these works, the artist can realize his ideas about color to the greatest degree of abstraction, without having to give up their attachment to nature. Nolde’s flower paintings are ideas with a loose connection to nature, so to speak, a permanent foundation of his work. Even though the subject of these paintings has remained constant over the years, every flower painting is completely different in its significance. The poppy, the tulip, the hyacinth, and the other flowers—they do not so much embody a botanical study as a mood between individual flower beings that stand like statues in the flower garden, waiting to please the artist. Nolde wants to get as close as possible to the luxuriant splendor of the delicate petals of the dainty poppy or the tulip. In order to realize his idea in watercolors, he captures the character of the individual plants, and is interested in applying paint and light with a certain amount of imprecision to expressly avoid the sharp detail of the bloom; Nolde wishes to shift the sphere of the irrefutable and the dematerialized into the distance. At times, Nolde contradicts himself: the Madonna figure is quite real and part of an extensive collection of devotional objects that the artist has collected over the years, which enliven his floral still lifes.

Christian Rohlfs

The flower paintings in particular become progressively more detached from nature; their blooms dissolve, so to speak. Rohlfs’s distance from the motif enables him to translate it into a state of vague intimation, memory, and mental suggestion. A gladiolus with its branch of individual blossoms before an unusually diffuse background thus exhibits a deep red yet simultaneously light immateriality, which can be traced back to the artist’s well-established unconventional painting technique. The first application of paint onto the heavy, not previously moistened Italian handmade paper is done quite dry. In the second phase of the creative process, the paint is reworked while it is still moist by crosshatching and scratching with cloths, brushes, and firm paintbrushes to achieve transparency and lightness. Rohlfs manages to revitalize the painting surface as a sensory-emotional perceptual experience in a particularly special way with flowers.

Christian Rohlfs

The flower paintings in particular become progressively more detached from nature; their blooms dissolve, so to speak. Rohlfs’s distance from the motif enables him to translate it into a state of vague intimation, memory, and mental suggestion. A gladiolus with its branch of individual blossoms before an unusually diffuse background thus exhibits a deep red yet simultaneously light immateriality, which can be traced back to the artist’s well-established unconventional painting technique. The first application of paint onto the heavy, not previously moistened Italian handmade paper is done quite dry. In the second phase of the creative process, the paint is reworked while it is still moist by crosshatching and scratching with cloths, brushes, and firm paintbrushes to achieve transparency and lightness. Rohlfs manages to revitalize the painting surface as a sensory-emotional perceptual experience in a particularly special way with flowers.

Christian Rohlfs

The flower paintings in particular become progressively more detached from nature; their blooms dissolve, so to speak. Rohlfs’s distance from the motif enables him to translate it into a state of vague intimation, memory, and mental suggestion. A gladiolus with its branch of individual blossoms before an unusually diffuse background thus exhibits a deep red yet simultaneously light immateriality, which can be traced back to the artist’s well-established unconventional painting technique. The first application of paint onto the heavy, not previously moistened Italian handmade paper is done quite dry. In the second phase of the creative process, the paint is reworked while it is still moist by crosshatching and scratching with cloths, brushes, and firm paintbrushes to achieve transparency and lightness. Rohlfs manages to revitalize the painting surface as a sensory-emotional perceptual experience in a particularly special way with flowers.

Christian Rohlfs

The flower paintings in particular become progressively more detached from nature; their blooms dissolve, so to speak. Rohlfs’s distance from the motif enables him to translate it into a state of vague intimation, memory, and mental suggestion. A gladiolus with its branch of individual blossoms before an unusually diffuse background thus exhibits a deep red yet simultaneously light immateriality, which can be traced back to the artist’s well-established unconventional painting technique. The first application of paint onto the heavy, not previously moistened Italian handmade paper is done quite dry. In the second phase of the creative process, the paint is reworked while it is still moist by crosshatching and scratching with cloths, brushes, and firm paintbrushes to achieve transparency and lightness. Rohlfs manages to revitalize the painting surface as a sensory-emotional perceptual experience in a particularly special way with flowers.

Christian Rohlfs

The flower paintings in particular become progressively more detached from nature; their blooms dissolve, so to speak. Rohlfs’s distance from the motif enables him to translate it into a state of vague intimation, memory, and mental suggestion. A gladiolus with its branch of individual blossoms before an unusually diffuse background thus exhibits a deep red yet simultaneously light immateriality, which can be traced back to the artist’s well-established unconventional painting technique. The first application of paint onto the heavy, not previously moistened Italian handmade paper is done quite dry. In the second phase of the creative process, the paint is reworked while it is still moist by crosshatching and scratching with cloths, brushes, and firm paintbrushes to achieve transparency and lightness. Rohlfs manages to revitalize the painting surface as a sensory-emotional perceptual experience in a particularly special way with flowers.

Christian-Rohlfs_Reiher_1936

Christian RohlfsReiher, 1936
Tempera and Charcoal on vellum paper
57 x 39 cm

Christian Rohlfs
Reiher, 1936
Tempera und Kreide auf Velin
57 x 39 cm

Christian Rohlfs
Reiher, 1936
Tempera und Kreide auf Velin
57 x 39 cm

Christian Rohlfs
Reiher, 1936
Tempera und Kreide auf Velin
57 x 39 cm

Christian Rohlfs

It is rare to find depictions of animals in Christian Rohlfs’s work that are as starkly accentuated as these herons. It can be assumed that, for the artist, this late work is not really about herons as such, just as he is not really concerned with flower petals in so many flower paintings. On the contrary, he seems fascinated by the possibility of translating the curved forms that convey the natural elegance of these majestic birds’ bodies into a painting. The composition of their long necks and striking beaks therefore has an interlaced, almost ornamental gesture, tone on tone, thus elevating the motif to a grisaille in off-white, gray-brown, and black. It is not the heron itself we are admiring here, but rather an impressive symbol of what inspired the artist to create this water tempera.

Christian Rohlfs

It is rare to find depictions of animals in Christian Rohlfs’s work that are as starkly accentuated as these herons. It can be assumed that, for the artist, this late work is not really about herons as such, just as he is not really concerned with flower petals in so many flower paintings. On the contrary, he seems fascinated by the possibility of translating the curved forms that convey the natural elegance of these majestic birds’ bodies into a painting. The composition of their long necks and striking beaks therefore has an interlaced, almost ornamental gesture, tone on tone, thus elevating the motif to a grisaille in off-white, gray-brown, and black. It is not the heron itself we are admiring here, but rather an impressive symbol of what inspired the artist to create this water tempera.

Christian Rohlfs

It is rare to find depictions of animals in Christian Rohlfs’s work that are as starkly accentuated as these herons. It can be assumed that, for the artist, this late work is not really about herons as such, just as he is not really concerned with flower petals in so many flower paintings. On the contrary, he seems fascinated by the possibility of translating the curved forms that convey the natural elegance of these majestic birds’ bodies into a painting. The composition of their long necks and striking beaks therefore has an interlaced, almost ornamental gesture, tone on tone, thus elevating the motif to a grisaille in off-white, gray-brown, and black. It is not the heron itself we are admiring here, but rather an impressive symbol of what inspired the artist to create this water tempera.

Christian Rohlfs

It is rare to find depictions of animals in Christian Rohlfs’s work that are as starkly accentuated as these herons. It can be assumed that, for the artist, this late work is not really about herons as such, just as he is not really concerned with flower petals in so many flower paintings. On the contrary, he seems fascinated by the possibility of translating the curved forms that convey the natural elegance of these majestic birds’ bodies into a painting. The composition of their long necks and striking beaks therefore has an interlaced, almost ornamental gesture, tone on tone, thus elevating the motif to a grisaille in off-white, gray-brown, and black. It is not the heron itself we are admiring here, but rather an impressive symbol of what inspired the artist to create this water tempera.

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

© Copyright Galerie Utermann 2020

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund

Galerie Utermann, Silberstraße 22, 44137 Dortmund