Artist / Artwork

Expressionism

You may have heard of expressionism and impressionism within the same art course before, or maybe you haven’t heard of them at all and regret not taking Art History. Expressionism isn’t exactly or nearly the same as impressionism through painting, but they both play a large part in the product of creativity. Expressionism is a style of painting, music, or acting (drama) where the artist and/or the writer uses personal and real-world experiences to fuel their art, rather than impressions. It’s quite the opposite and more in-depth than impressionism. 

Expressionism was created in the 20th-century and was primarily an avant-garde style during World War I. The Weimer Republic and in Berlin saw the height of the popularity of expressionism, which triggered a massive avalanche into new world art. The main photo that we all know – even non-artists, is The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch that really got the snowball rolling down the mountain for future expressionists. 

Does it have to be filled with angst?

A lot of times, expressionism is associated closely with the feeling of angst because anger is more productive and powerful when creating art. While they aren’t mutually exclusive, we do tend to see more angst and heavy emotion within expressionism as it’s a healthy outlet versus getting into trouble.

Notable artists

Since 1850, there have been hundreds of successful expressionists from around the world. This includes Horia Bernea from Romania, Affandi from Indonesia, George Bouzianis from Greece, Alexis Gritchnko from Ukraine, Francis Bacon from the United Kingdom, and more than two dozen from the United States alone. One of Egon Schiele’s more notable expressionist paintings include a stern “Portrait of Eduard Kosmack”. 

Like the impressionists, expressionists around the world formed groups in a collaborative effort to bring some of the best and most inspiring expressionist art. Their aim was to bring something fresh to the table and push boundaries in the name of art. These groups included the New York Figurative Expressionism from the 1950’s. In this group, there were quite a few recognizable names including Robert Goodnough, Grace Hartigan, Lester Johnson, Larry Rivers, and Bob Thompson.

Unlike the preceding impressionists, women artists weren’t as looked down upon and there were quite a few successful female expressionists including Mary Callery, Sandra Chia, and Natalia Chernogolova. 

Difficult To Define

Expressionism has such a broad range when it comes to pinpointing the direct art style, which is how so many of the “isms” developed. This includes surrealism, cubism, positivism, vorticism, and more. Artists like Kafka, Gottfried Benn, and Doblin really set the bar high for the expressionist movement. 

The root of expressionism is expression. The only other element that is needed is art, which can be in the form of many outlets. This is why it’s difficult to define, as it can be in the form of dance, sculpting, cinema, literature like journals, poetry, drama, prose, music, and even architecture. When it comes to other outlets of expressionism besides painting, there were dozens who put everything they had into one piece, expressing themselves until they couldn’t express anymore. When they could, they moved onto another work in progress piece of art. 


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