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Home >> Popular Painting Styles >> Expressionism


Expressionism can describe almost every mode of artistic expression, it any art that raises subjective feelings above objective observations is after all an instance of expressionism. However the art that reflects the artist’s state of mind rather than the reality of the external world can be called the truest instance of expressionism.

The German Expressionist movement began in 1905 with artists such as Kirchner and Nolde, who favored the Fauvist style of bright colors but also added stronger linear effects and harsher outlines.

The Goals of Expressionism were not to reproduce the impression suggested by the surrounding world (like that of Impressionism), but to strongly impose the artist's own sensibility to the world's representation. The expressionist artist substitutes the visual object with his interpretation of it. The focus is not on harmony and forms. The only important thing is to achieve the highest expression intensity, both from the aesthetic point of view and according to idea and human critics.

Expressionism was essentially a German art movement till 1910. As an international movement, expressionism has also been thought of as inheriting from certain medieval art forms and, more directly, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh and the Fauvism movement.


Fauvism was a movement, which greatly influenced the sensibilities of the Expressionists. In fact may claim that Expressionism is a logical progression of Fauvism.

The Fauvists translated their feelings into color with a rough, almost clumsy style. Fauvists paintings were chaharcterised by simplified lines, an attempt was made to make the subject of the painting easy to read.The perspectives were almost always exaggerated. Fauvist Painters emphasized freshness and spontaneity over finish.

The thought behind fauvism can be best expressed through an excerpt of the conversation between Paul Gauguin and Paul Sérusier.

"How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine; these red leaves? Put in vermilion."

German Expressionists (1937)

The most well known German expressionists are Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Lionel Feininger, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein; the Austrian Oskar Kokoschka, the Czech Alfred Kubin and the Norvegian Edvard Munch are also related to this movement.

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