What is Expressionism Characteristics Authors and representatives


When we talk about expressionism, we are referring to an artistic and cultural movement that emerged in 20th century Germany, and which encompassed a large number of creators in different artistic disciplines , such as painting , sculpture , literature , architecture , cinema , art. theater , dance , photography , etc. Its fundamental principle tends to be summed up in the distortion of reality to express the emotional and psychological content , that is, subjective, of the artist.

Along with French Fauvism, Expressionism is one of the first artistic movements to be classified as Vanguards (the “Historical Vanguards”), despite the fact that more than a homogeneous movement it was a style, an attitude , that brought together a diversity of movements and tendencies, whose common axis was their opposition to the dominant Impressionism since the end of the 19th century and their association with positivist philosophy .

Thus, it is possible to speak of many expressionisms: the fauvist, the modernist , cubist , futurist , surreal , abstract, etc. Although its origin took place in Germany, mainly with the groups Die Brücke (1905) and Der Blaue Reiter (1911), it was a trend that became popular throughout Europe and even the American countries. The term “expressionist” was used for the first time in 1901 to designate a series of paintings presented at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, and is attributed to Julién-Auguste Hervé.

Characteristics of expressionism

Expressionism is considered a reaction against the principles of objectivity of Impressionism , imposing on art the task of representing in a subjective way, that is, distorted, deformed, the emotionality of the artist, and not the faithful reflection of what the poet observes in the painting. real world. Initially this referred only to painting, but later it migrated to the rest of the arts.

This victory of subjectivity produced, in the first instance, a tendency towards violent colors , towards the theme of loneliness and misery , which is generally interpreted as the feelings that existed in Germany between the wars, submerged in a political crisis . and economic, which prompted a desire to renew artistic languages.

However, expressionism quickly adapted to other geographies and cultures , becoming a reflection of subjectivities other than the German one. Thus, expressionism is far from being a homogeneous or easily definable movement, since it is a current with a lot of stylistic diversity.

This movement disappeared after the Second World War (1939-1945) , but it left a strong mark on other artistic trends of the mid-20th century, such as North American Abstract Expressionism or German Neo-Expressionism, as well as on the work of many individual authors.

abstract expressionism

Abstract Expressionism is known as an artistic movement that emerged in the United States around 1940 and later spread to the rest of the world, being the first properly American movement in the history of the arts.

It is understood as a combination of abstract art with the precepts of European expressionism , achieving a very subjective degree of expression of the artist’s interiority from chaotic forms, disorderly or violent lines, which is why it is also known as Action painting. (“Action painting”) or Drip painting (“Drip painting”), and is associated with the so-called New York School, a group of artists of the time who shared this idea of ​​art.

Some of its great exponents were Arshile Gorky, considered its founder and leader of the group, William Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still and internationally renowned authors such as Jackson Pollock.

german expressionism

Instead, German Expressionism is called the initial trend of the expressionist movement , which emerged in Germany in the interwar period, although this movement later became an international phenomenon.

Its appearance in Germany is not a fortuitous event, but is nourished by the numerous and in-depth studies of art that took place in that country since before the 19th century, especially with regard to romanticism and the contributions in the field of character aesthetics. Wagner and Nietzsche, among others. This is how the Innerer Drang (“inner need”) was formed, the result of the separation between the real world and the internal world of the artist, and a key concept in the rise of Expressionism, which tried to capture this feeling.

Expressionism was branded as “Degenerate Art” by Nazism during the 1930s and 1940s , and prohibited for alleged links to communism and of course subversive political content. Perhaps for that reason after the Second World War it disappeared as a trend.

Major works

Some of the most representative works of Expressionism in the different arts are:

  • painting .
    • Fränzi before a carved chair (1910) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
    • Blue Horse (1912) by Franz Marc
    • The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch
    • Senecio (1922) by Paul Klee
    • The Blue Rider (1903) by Wassily Kandinsky
  • Literature .
    • The Death of Danton (1835) by Georg Büchner
    • Spring Awakening (1891) by Frank Wedekind
    • Road to Damascus (1898) by August Strindberg
    • The Magic Mountain (1924) by Thomas Mann
    • The Metamorphosis (1915) by Frank Kafka
  • music .
    • Pierrot Lunaire (1912) by Arnold Schoenberg
    • The Light of the Eyes (1935) by Anton von Webern
    • Wozzek (1925) by Alban Berg
  • Cinema .
    • The Golem (1914) by Paul Wegener and Henrik Gaalen
    • The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1919) by Robert Wiene
    • Nosferatu, the Vampire (1922) by Friedrich Murnau
    • M, the Vampire of Düsseldorf (1931) by Fritz Lang

Authors and representatives

Expressionism enjoys numerous and acclaimed exponents in all artistic areas, many of whom are among the most famous contemporary artists in the world, such as:

  • PaintArnold Bröcklin (Swiss, 1827-1901), Heinrich Nauen (German, 1880-1940), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938), Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879-1940), Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944) , Franz Marc (German, 1880-1916), Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918), Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920), Marc Chagall (Belarusian, 1887-1985), Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) , Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957) or Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954).
  • Music. Arnold Schönberg (Austrian, 1874-1951), Anton Webern (Austrian, 1883-1945), Alban Berg (Austrian, 1885-1935), Paul Hildemith (German, 1895-1963), Viktor Ullman (Polish, 1898-1944).
  • LiteratureGeorg Büchner (German, 1813-1837), August Strindberg (Swedish, 1849-1912), Thomas Mann (German, 1875-1955), Gottfried Benn (German, 1886-1956), Franz Kafka (Czech, 1883-1924), Georg Trakl (Austrian, 1887-1914), Bertoldt Brecht (German, 1898-1956), Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (Spanish, 1866-1936).
  • Cinema. Robert Wiene (German, 1873-1938), Friedrich Murnau (German, 1888-1931), Fritz Lang (Austrian, 1890-1976), Paul Wegener (German, 1874-1948), Robert Siodmak (German, 1900-1973).

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