Expressionism is a form of art that started in Germany in the early 1900’s. It was created as a response to the anxiety surrounding the people’s relationship with their world that seemed in discord and how they had feelings of having lost their authenticity and spirituality. It was also a bit on the other end of impressionism and art that was considered academic. There were a few artists that became well known in the expressionist movement, such as James Ensor, Edvard Munch, and Vincent van Gogh. They encouraged distorting forms and deploying strong colors to represents the yearnings and anxieties of the people. In Europe, the classic phase of Expressionism was from around 1905 to 1920. Later, this became known as Abstract Expressionism in German art and began to influence art throughout the rest of the century. This kind of art also influenced the Neo-Expressionism art that arose in the 1980’s.
The Expressionist artists helped to create new standards when it came to creating art and how art itself was judged. Instead of art being a mere depiction of the visual world around us, it came to be what the artist felt within. The quality of art started being an assessment of what the artist was feeling more than an analysis of the composition of the painting.
When creating their art, the expressionist would be seen employing exaggerated brush strokes with lots of swaying and swirling to depict their subjects. This kind of work was meant to convey the artist’s state of emotion as a reaction to the anxieties being faced in the modern world they lived in.
Expressionism gave the artists a voice to confront the urban world throughout the early twentieth century through their bold colors and serpentine figural paintings. When they represented the modern city in their work, there were individuals who were alienated, which was a psychological product of the urbanization of the time, as well as prostitutes represented. The prostitutes represented the role of capitalism in distancing the individuals of the city emotionally.
Many people continue to use expressionist art to express their feelings in relation to the world they live in and the experiences they have. When I did carpet cleaning Albany, Oregon at the local art museum, the expressionist art exhibit was always my favorite.