Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christ Among the Children

Title: Christ Among the Children

Artist: Emil Nolde

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 86.8 x 106.4 cm

Date: 1910

Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Emil Nolde has created a canvas with three dominate forms: the bright colorful splendor of the right half, the color contrast between both halves of the canvas, and the dominating shape in the center. The gaze is first drawn to the right, with the remarkable tones of full red and bright orange. The prevailing mood is one of amusement and pure joy. This is underlined by the rich gesturing of the children, arms held high. The bright colors stand in contrast to the darkness of the left side which is occupied by five men with quiet skepticism on their faces. The center is held by the solid back of the figure of Jesus, painted in deep green blue tones, who turns to the merry children and the two mothers with their infants.

The connection between Jesus and the children is indicated not only by the fact that one child has arms flung around Jesus’ neck, but also by the color and quality of the opened eyes, singular in the picture with white sclera, representing a formative intention. The bright eyes of the child reflect the relationship with Christ. This light does not remain limited to the children and mothers, however, as is casts a glow across the faces of the adults on the left side. They have the choice, to remain in the dark area or to seize the possibility of stepping fully into the light. But Nolde directs the primary line of sight unmistakably on the attentive children, and thus on the message of Jesus as recorded in Mark 10:15-16 “‘verily I say to you, whoever may not receive the reign of God, as a child -- he may not enter into it;’ and having taken them in his arms, having put his hands upon them, he was blessing them.”

Emil Nolde (7 August 1867 – 13 April 1956) was a German painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists and a member of Die Brücke, an influential group of German expressionist artists formed in Dresden in 1905. He is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolor painters of the 20th century, known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors.

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