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"With faith in progress and in a new generation of creators and spectators we call together all youth. As youth, we carry the future and want to create for ourselves freedom of life and of movement against the long-established older forces. Everyone who reproduces that which drives him to creation with directness and authenticity belongs to us."
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
"The German artist creates out of his imagination, inner vision, the forms of visible nature are to him only a symbol."
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
"Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them."
Franz Marc
"My real motive for choosing my subjects almost exclusively from the life of the workers was that only such subjects gave me in a simple and unqualified way what I felt to be beautiful..."
Käthe Kollwitz
"I really feel a pressure to create something that is as strong as possible. The war has really swept away everything form the past. Everything seems weak to me and I suddenly see things in their terrible power. I never liked the type of art that was simply appealing to the eye, and I have the fundamental feeling that we need still stronger forms, so strong, that they can withstand the force of the crazed masses."
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
"True dreams and visions should be as visible to the artist as the phenomena of the objective."
Oskar Kokoschka
"Incomprehensible ideas express themselves in comprehensible forms...Form is a mystery to us for it is the expression of mysterious powers...Our senses are our bridge between the incomprehensible and the comprehensible."
August Macke

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Ernst Ludwig KirchnerErnst Ludwig Kirchner
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Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
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Käthe KollowitzKäthe Kollowitz
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Paul KleePaul Klee
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Chaim SoutineChaim Soutine
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Max BeckmannMax Beckmann
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"Everyone who renders directly and honestly whatever drives him to create is one of us."

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Signature

Synopsis

Expressionism emerged simultaneously in various cities across Germany as a response to a widespread anxiety about humanity's increasingly discordant relationship with the world and accompanying lost feelings of authenticity and spirituality. In part a reaction against Impressionism and academic art, Expressionism was inspired most heavily by the Symbolist currents in late-19th-century art. Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and James Ensor proved particularly influential to the Expressionists, encouraging the distortion of form and the deployment of strong colors to convey a variety of anxieties and yearnings. The classic phase of the Expressionist movement lasted from approximately 1905 to 1920 and spread throughout Europe. Its example would later inform Abstract Expressionism, and its influence would be felt throughout the remainder of the century in German art. It was also a critical precursor to the Neo-Expressionist artists of the 1980s.

Key Ideas

The arrival of Expressionism announced new standards in the creation and judgment of art. Art was now meant to come forth from within the artist, rather than from a depiction of the external visual world, and the standard for assessing the quality of a work of art became the character of the artist's feelings rather than an analysis of the composition.
Expressionist artists often employed swirling, swaying, and exaggeratedly executed brushstrokes in the depiction of their subjects. These techniques were meant to convey the turgid emotional state of the artist reacting to the anxieties of the modern world.
Through their confrontation with the urban world of the early-20th century, Expressionist artists developed a powerful mode of social criticism in their serpentine figural renderings and bold colors. Their representations of the modern city included alienated individuals - a psychological by-product of recent urbanization - as well as prostitutes, who were used to comment on capitalism's role in the emotional distancing of individuals within cities.

Beginnings

Expressionism Image

With the turn of the century in Europe, shifts in artistic styles and vision erupted as a response to the major changes in the atmosphere of society. New technologies and massive urbanization efforts altered the individual's worldview, and artists reflected the psychological impact of these developments by moving away from a realistic representation of what they saw toward an emotional and psychological rendering of how the world affected them. The roots of Expressionism can be traced to certain Post-Impressionist artists like Edvard Munch in Norway, as well as Gustav Klimt of the Vienna Secession.

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Expressionism Overview Continues

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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