Nölle was born in Soest, Germany (1948). He lives in Barcelona since 1988. He commenced his artistic activities in the mid-1970s. Marked social undertones, a sensibility for capturing and addressing relevant issues related to the complex relationship between humans and nature, and a critical approach to politico-economic, cultural and environmental issues are themes that were reflected even in his early photographic and three-dimensional works, and were destined to maintain a constant presence in practically all of his subsequent artistic productions.
Between 1979 and 1981 he travelled extensively throughout various Latin American countries, including Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. During the time he spent in Brazil he created photographic series on the Indians of the Amazon, the life of the caboclos (people of mixed European and Indian ancestry) and the lesser-known side of Carnival in Rio.
In 1981 he returns to Germany. Nölle presented his work in several solo and group exhibitions, most notably at the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Bonn; Kunstverein, Bonn; Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; Mülheim Art Museum; Orangerie Schloss Augustusburg, Brühl; Städtische Galerie am Herrenteich, Suhl. The monographic catalogue of his work produced between 1985-1991 was published.
In 1988, he set up a studio in Barcelona, Spain. In 1993, as mentor and co-founder, he created the L’Angelot Contemporary Culture Association in Barcelona, the first venue in Spain dedicated specifically to media art. Up until 1999, this association developed innumerable activities.
In 1993 he started a new series of works in different formats – object and light boxes, installations, environments, photographs. He held solo exhibitions in Germany, Brazil and Spain Madrid, Valencia, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and Barcelona. From 2000 he worked in sound and audiovisual installations in collaboration with Carlos Jovellar (cv8.org). Nölle exhibited his installations at Museum of Art Sabadell; Multimedia Centre of the National Centre for the Arts in Mexico City; Observatori-III International Festival Valencia, MUVIM, Museo Valenciano de la Ilustración y la Modernidad; Museu d´Art Contemporani d´Eivissa (Ibiza).
In 2006 he celebrated the solo exhibition Entre las imágenes [Between the Images] at the 5th International Image Festival in Manizales (Colombia), where he presented five audiovisual installations. The solo exhibition Silencio vicioso was shown at the Spanish Cultural Centre in Mexico City in 2006. That same year, Nölle presented the audiovisual installation Hall of Fame (cv8.org) in the Canariasmediafest, the 12th International Arts and Digital Cultures Festival of Gran Canaria.
In 2008, the video installation El salto del ángel (Qué será, será…) [Angel's Leap (Whatever Will Be, Will Be…)] was presented at the exhibition The Discreet Charm of Technology: Arts in Spain at the MEIAC, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo (Badajoz), the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlruhe (Germany) and the Neue Galerie Graz (Austria). In November 2008, he presented an individual exhibition entitled Tiempos dorados [Golden Times] at the MEIAC, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo of Badajoz (catalogue). The solo exhibition Way of Light, photographs and video art, was shown at Factoria Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in 2010. The main features of this production are the research of light potential and the construction of images in conjunction with movement.
In 2012 he published the photo book Musa. In February/March 2014, he presented a solo exhibition at the Gallery Arte Periférica, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisboa (Portugal), with a selection of photographs of the Musa series. He completed the artist's book By the Way in 2015, with photographs devoted to the relationship between travel, the fleeting gaze and the landscape. The book has a limited edition of 50 copies and 50 copies with an original in a box, and is edited by ACC L'Angelot (Barcelona). 2015 this book is presented at the Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona (Spain), MEIAC – Museo de Arte Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo (Badajoz, Spain), EsBaluard – Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Palma (Mallorca, Spain), and Parque Lage School of Visual Arts (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
In 2015, he participated in an exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Vienna (Austria).The Project Mare Rostrum, commissioned by Marviva – Agencia de Residus de Catalunya, Port de Barcelona, Drap-Art, was exhibited at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, Spain, in 2015. The photographic series addresses the real threat of debris at sea, taken away by fishermen from deep seaareas on the Mediterranean coast, in contrast to luxury consumer products such as red prawns. Also in 2015 he participates in exhibition at the Re:NEW Festival Pittsburgh, USA, with the installation Musée Méditerranée, and in the exhibition of Drap-Art Festival in Intendance of Montevideo, Uruguay.
In 2016 he developed the public-space-project SEA≈STORE, presented at the Drap-Art'16 Festival, in collaboration with CCCB Center for Contemporary Culture Barcelona, Spain. It consists of performances with Portable Micro-Museums, and the installation of the Ephemeral Museum consisting of an eco-building dome using reeds in the Plaça dels Àngels square, in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art MACBA in Barcelona. Both parts of the Project approach the question of the fragility of ecosystems as well as of human memory and history. [https://vimeo.com/206446543]
The photo-book Elsewhere (2016), along with Carlos Gasparinho, has been exhibited in the Angeles Baños Gallery, Badajoz (Spain) in 2016 and at the ARCOLisboa’16. The exhibition to this project Elsewhere – An Improbable Journey was show in the Goethe-Institut Lisbon (March 8 – June 30, 2017). This thematic exhibit comprises diptychs created by Gasparinho and Nölle, and individual photographs by both.
February 13 to April 15, 2018 Thomas Nölle celebrated the solo exhibition By the Way at the Museo Nacional del Romanticismo, in Madrid, with a selection of works of the photographic essay. Two thematic subjects make up the backbone of Nölle’s exhibition. One focuses on vision through the window, making it possible to capture unique and unrepeatable instants distinguished by the mobility of voyage, whether of the artist behind the camera or of the features portrayed in the exterior realm. The other prioritizes immersion in the landscape, as a way of setting up dialogues between human beings and nature, between inner and outer worlds. [Exhibition clip] [Lecture presentation by Prof. Amador Vega]
He exhibits at a group show in the Puxa Gallery, Madrid, from April 12 to May 26, 2018.
Two solo exhibitions are shown in February and March 2020 in Madrid: At Casa de América the exhibition NOTES ON SOUTH AMERICA – A Journey 1979-1981, which brings together a selection of black and white photographs taken during his long journey through four countries: Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, which reveals his focus on social and environmental issues. A book with a selection of over two hundred images of this period is published to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of his journey and coincides with this exhibition.
At Puxagallery the show entitled En passant presents thematic groups that synthesize the important issues in Thomas Nölle's works linked to fragility, fragmentation and the relationship of human beings with the environment and nature. Produced expressly for the occasion, the exhibition is composed of photographic works in light box format, and graphic works.