Expressionism 1890 – …

International movement in art and architecture, which flourished between c 1905 and c 1920, especially in Germany It also extended to literature, music, dance and theatre The term was originally applied more widely to various avant-garde movements: for example it was adopted as an alternative to the use of ‘Post-Impressionism’ by Roger Fry in exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912 It was also used contemporaneously in Scandinavia and Germany, being gradually confined to the specific groups of artists and architects to which it is now applied Expressionism in the fine arts developed from the Symbolist and expressive trends in European art at the end of the 19th century The period of ‘classical Expressionism’ began in 1905, with the foundation of the group Die Brucke, and ended c 1920 Although in part an artistic reaction both to academic art and to Impressionism, the movement should be understood as a form of ‘new Humanism’, which sought to communicate man’s spiritual life It reflected the deep lectual unrest c 1900, reflected in contemporary literary sources, about the destruction of the traditional relationship of trust between man and the world

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality

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Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including expressionist architecture, painting, literature, theatre, dance, film and music

The term is sometimes suggestive of angst In a general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco are sometimes termed expressionist, though in practice the term is applied mainly to 20th-century works The Expressionist emphasis on individual perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic styles such as Naturalism and Impressionism

While the word expressionist was used in the modern sense as early as 1850, its origin is sometimes traced to paintings exhibited in 1901 in Paris by an obscure artist Julien–Auguste Hervé, which he called Expressionismes Though an alternate view is that the term was coined by the Czech art historian Antonin Matějček in 1910, as the opposite of impressionism: “An Expressionist wishes, above all, to express himself (an Expressionist rejects) immediate perception and builds on more complex psychic structures Impressions and mental images that pass through mental peoples soul as through a filter which rids them of all substantial accretions to produce their clear essence [and] are assimilated and condense into more general forms, into types, which he transcribes through simple short-hand formulae and symbols”

Important precursors of Expressionism were: the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), especially his philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883–92); the later plays of the Swedish dramatist August Strindberg (1849–1912), including the trilogy To Damascus 1898–1901, A Dream Play (1902), The Ghost Sonata (1907); Frank Wedekind (1864–1918), especially the “Lulu” plays Erdgeist (Earth Spirit) (1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box) (1904); the American poet Walt Whitman (1819–92): Leaves of Grass (1855–91); the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–81); Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863–1944); Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–90); Belgian painter James Ensor (1860–1949); Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)