The Scream (1910) by Edvard MunchThe Munch Museum, Oslo
Expressionism is an art movement originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. The term refers to art in which the image of reality has been distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas.
An avant-garde style that took off just before World War I, intensely-applied and non-naturalistic color is used as a device to take the viewer away from reality. Similarly, brush work is free and erratic, and paint application is often generous and textured.
Themes within Expressionist paintings are varied but they often have an emotional, sometimes even mystical, edge to them which can be seen as an extension of Romanticism. After World War II an extension of the movement developed in American known as Abstract Expressionism – this was characterized by gestural mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity. Artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were advocates of the movement.
Though the term typically represents 20th century German art, it’s possible to see Expressionist paintings all over the world. Here we take a virtual tour of the movement and find out more about the artists who defined it.
The Scream, Edvard MunchThe Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
The Scream, Edvard Munch (From the collection of The Munch Museum)
Improvisation, Wassily KandinskyMuseum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan, Kazan, Russia
Improvisation (1913/1913) by Wassily Wassilyevich KandinskyMuseum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan
Improvisation, Wassily Kandinsky (From the collection of Museum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan)
Self-Portrait, Grimacing, Egon SchieleLeopold Museum, Wien, Austria
Fränzi in front of Carved Chair, Ernst Ludwig KirchnerMuseo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain
Fränzi in front of Carved Chair (1910) by Ernst Ludwig KirchnerMuseo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Fränzi in front of carved chair, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (From the collection of Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza)
Masks, Emil NoldeThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USA
Masks (1911) by Emil NoldeThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Masks, Emil Nolde (From the collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)
Howling Dog, Paul KleeMinneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, USA
Howling Dog (1928) by Paul KleeMinneapolis Institute of Art