Described as an aesthetic movement, Expressionism was born in Dresden in 1905 when Ernst Ludwig Kirchner led four German students to form the group Die Brucke. It had its most significant impact in Germany, shaping German art after World War I. In short, Expressionism is art in which reality is distorted so that the artist’s inner thoughts and feelings are expressed in their works. Examples of Expressionism include paintings such as The Scream and Starry Night.
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Exaggerated depiction of subject matter
One characteristic of Expressionism is its use of exaggerated brushstrokes and the emotional state they evoke. Artists in this movement often sacrificed accuracy and incorporated social criticism into their works. The result is a collection of paintings that often depict distorted figures and scenes. These works reflect artists’ anxieties about the modern world and the confrontation between them and the early 20th-century urban scene.
The term “Expressionism” was coined by Antonin Matejcek, a Czech art historian. Matejcek intended it to be the opposite of Impressionism, in which the artist was said to look externally for inspiration. In contrast, the expressionists sought to express their inner world, or inner emotions, through their works. These works are often characterized by the use of violent lines, exaggerated brushstrokes, and combinations of colors.
Another characteristic of Expressionism is the use of colors and distorted subject matter. The expressive nature of the paintings is emphasized with contrasting colors, which create a sense of shock and disbelief. This technique is often a reaction to the pessimistic side of life, and the use of striking colors and brushstrokes enhances the subject matter. There are many examples of Expressionism throughout history, and they continue to influence artists today.
The colorful background and concentrated brushstrokes are common traits of Expressionism. In addition, heightened emotion and disjointed spaces often represent the new anxieties of modern urban life. Often, the subject matter is depicted in colors that have no natural relationship to it. Similarly, the colors used in abstract Expressionism have no real connection to the subject. Thus, the background is obscured while the subject matter is enclosed, creating a depthless representation of space.
The simplified portrayal of the subject matter
The term “expressionist” has a broad definition but is often used to refer to a specific painting style. Many of its hallmarks can be traced back to its antecedents in the 1890s. Artists who practiced Expressionism were often interested in northern European medieval and Renaissance artists and African wood carvings. Similarly, artists who practiced this style were aware of French and Italian classicalizing tendencies.
The primary goal of Expressionism is to capture the individual artist’s feelings and show their own emotional responses. Expressionism usually employs distorted and abstract representations of subject matter, using vivid colors and disproportionate sizes. Subject matter may include fantasy, violence, loss of authenticity, or spirituality. The early Expressionist movement was considered a reaction against Impressionism and its successors, Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionismus.
One of the characteristics of abstract art is its distance from reality. Although abstract art tends to be devoid of real objects, it can still be categorized as Expressionism. In fact, if one is familiar with the genre, they’re likely to be able to identify the most notable artists of the period. Among the most influential artists during the expressionism movement include JMW Turner (1830), Claude Monet (1860-1937), and Robert Motherwell (1850-1940).
German expressionists embraced the expressive potential of line and color and often depicted themes that were both emotional and contemporary. Although they mainly avoided nature and portrayed the human figure, expressionists often expressed feelings of extreme rage, sadness, or despair. Their paintings often featured rapid brushwork and distorted lines. These artists emphasized the power of expression through chaotic compositions. Their paintings were often highly political, highlighting social and political issues and often featured themes that are relevant to contemporary society.
Artworks by expressionists have been exhibited in many of the world’s finest museums. The expressive style is often described as being opposed to the traditional rationalist and classical styles of art. However, the aesthetics of Expressionism are different. Expressionist paintings display an emotional intensity that may seem more chaotic or abrasive than reality. These paintings are more expressive and suggest an expression of the unconscious, spiritual, or mind.
Expressionism was also a significant influence on the evolution of painting. Its emphasis on visual gestures instead of realistic representation has made it one of the most personal art styles. While content is still paramount in the work of masters such as Michelangelo and El Greco, the technique is increasingly dominant and often overshadowed by the content. By the mid-twentieth century, the content was often replaced by abstract painterly qualities, influenced by scale, color, shape, and dimensions.
Expressionists often use various techniques to convey emotions in the best possible way. Their art uses powerful techniques in order to convey its message. Their work is full of raw, inchoate, or chaotic feelings. Artists who adopt extreme tactics to express their emotions are often alienated from society and take unconventional measures to convey them. They may create disruptive social movements, go on spiritual journeys, adopt adolescent poses, or become pioneers of the inner world.
Germany also embraced the expressionism movement and has been associated with the Brucke and Der Blaue Reiter groups. These artists, along with Kirchner, resisted the bourgeois aesthetic of academic Impressionism and sought to reinvigorate German art. Later, the group’s membership included Max Pechstein, Otto Muller, and Emil Nolde. They drew inspiration from nature and often included elements of religion, politics, and mythology.
Search for deeper meaning
In the early decades of the 20th century, expressionist artists ushered in a revolutionary new style of art and life. During this period, the goal of progressive artists and writers was to find a deeper, more spiritual perception of the world around them. They rejected materialism and the pace of industrialization in favor of a more personal, emotional perspective. Despite its ambiguous origins, the style has evolved into one of the most influential artistic movements in modern history.
The term ‘Expressionism’ was first used to describe the art movement in 1911 when the painters of Die Brucke in Germany became very popular. However, the term stuck around and was later applied to other artists’ works. One of these artists was Max Beckmann, a German painter who became known for his distorted self-portraits and figure scenes, such as The Night. By capturing the raw emotions of their subjects, these artists sought to depict the effects of world events.