What is Expressionism definition/concept

We can call Expressionism the artistic current, which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, which sought to give way to the author’s feelings and objectively represent reality .

Although this movement is tremendously heterogeneous and encompasses numerous disciplines (mainly painting, but also music, dance, cinema , theater and photography), it was born as a reaction to Impressionism and became a totally opposed alternative to this movement. .

Expressionism is in fact marked by its historical context

The social and political situation at the time manifested in artists, basically in Germans, the idea of ​​existential anguish as the main focus for making their works.

In this way, the main objective of the expressionists was to intensify as much as possible the sentimental impact that their works had on the spectator or reader, even more exaggerating with the themes. Therefore, the representation of emotions is unrealistic, focusing on the characters’ internal nature and not their external reality.

For all that, the expressionist work of art is essentially tragic and makes its characters more than individual human beings, that they are represented as stereotypes.

Precedents of Expressionism

Some theorists see the roots of Expressionism through Goya’s black paintings, which break with outer reality and enter the depths of the human soul. However, the main references of Expressionism can be found in Gauguin and Van Gogh, both for the psychological depth of their works and also for the technique itself.

The other great influence of Expressionism can be found in Symbolism, whose ideas of the artist express his feelings, inner fears and fantasies through his works regardless of whether this alters his reality.

From the union of these currents came the preliminary period of Expressionism, in which the main responsible were the Norwegian painter Edward Munch and the Belgian James Ensor.

German expressionist cinema

The influences of Expressionism were not limited only to painting and literature , cinema also had great participation as an art. German expressionist cinema emerged as a response to the measures taken by the Nazi authorities after their coming to power.

Although the influence of this artistic current is noticed at the beginning of the century, it was in the 1920s that the best films in the history of cinema appeared, among which the famous “Doctor Caligari’s office”, “Metropolis”, “The Golem” and “Nosferatu”.

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