What is Expressionism? Artistic movement that seeks to value human feelings and expressions. Understand!

Expressionism in Art

What is Expressionism?

Expressionism is the name given to the artistic movement that began in the 20th century in Europe. expressionism in art

It is one of the representatives of the historical vanguards and one of the first movements to value human feelings and expressions.

Expressionism Summary expressionism in art

Between 1918 and 1939, Europe was the scene of the two biggest world conflicts that caused a lot of suffering, a lot of losses and a lot of problems for humanity.

This period, known as “the crazy years”, was responsible for driving many people crazy and unable to imagine or plan for the future. So, for these people, the only moment that mattered was the present, because death was already close.

Even during this period of madness, imbalance and dissatisfaction, several artistic movements known as ‘European avant-gardes’ emerged, which were concerned with reproducing a new interpretation and expression of reality.

Thus, Expressionism was the name given to one of these vanguards that, as the name itself says, represents the expression of human emotions, approaching through their works the dismal vision of the human being during the crazy years.

In addition, this movement had a reaction to the positivism of the Impressionist movement (which had a technical character regarding color vision and did not give importance to human expressions), being, therefore, Post-Impressionist.

In summary, the conflicts caused shortly after the emergence of this movement (World War I) almost destroyed it, but did not extinguish it. And it is precisely in this disgrace caused by the war that the artists rose again, showing all the pain caused in people during this period. expressionism in art

When did Expressionism arise?

As stated above, Expressionism was a movement that emerged in the 20th century in Europe.

However, it is worth mentioning that this movement does not have a defined place of origin, but the consensus that experts have reached is that it emerged in mid-1905, in Germany.

In that same year, several artists of this branch appeared in the German country and, therefore, the movement is also known as German Expressionism. expressionism in art

Expressionism Characteristics expressionism in art

Because of its historical context, Expressionism focused on showing all the sentimentality of the human being. Therefore, the main characteristics of this movement are:

  • Capturing the deepest feelings of human beings;

  • It reveals the pessimistic side of life;

  • It is a school that sought to make use of art to show existential anguish and despair (fruit of the industrial revolution);

  • Valuing the psychological; expressionism in art

  • Expression of the author’s emotions and feelings;

  • It intensifies the viewer’s emotional impact by distorting and exaggerating the themes;

  • Depiction of loneliness and madness (reflection of the spirit of the people of the time).

Features of the works: expressionism in art

  • Intensity and contrast of colors;

  • Linear distortion; expressionism in art

  • Vigor and dynamism;

  • Violent composition;

  • Technique with thick layers of paint;

  • Appreciation of the tragic and the dark;

  • He despises the perceptive of light, for the way of feeling the world is what matters;

  • Appreciation of dark, tragic themes.

Expressionism artists expressionism in art

Edvard Munch = Norwegian painter considered the precursor of Expressionism or German Expressionism. His works are portrayed in extremely emotional and impactful ways. His most famous work is ‘The Scream (1893)’.

Wassily Kandinsky = Russian artist who later gained German citizenship, was a professor at the Bauhaus (until it was closed by the Nazis). He was from the expressionist aesthetic movement and one of his most important works is ‘Der Blaue Reiter (1903)’.

Oskar Kokoschka = Austrian painter who later moved to Germany and joined the Viennese Secession in Berlin. He is a famous expressionist painter and one of his main works is ‘Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909)’. expressionism in art

 Expressionism Works

Check out some of the movement’s main works:

The Scream

what is expressionism in art

The Scream (1893), Artist: Edvard Munch expressionism in art

Der Blaue Reiter


Der Blaue Reiter (1903) Artist: Wassily Kandinsky

Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909)


Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909); Artist: Oskar Kokoschka

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