Expressionism is a European cultural movement which impacted literature, music, theater, and architecture.
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The first Expressionist Art Style was born in France with the Fauves (‘wild beasts, savages’), so-called because of the expressive violence of color. A second group, Die Brücke (‘The Bridge’) later emerged in Germany. With the turn of the century in Europe, changes in artistic styles erupted as a response to important societal changes. Art reflected the psychological disruption brought by these sudden developments.
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Expressionism spread simultaneously across Germany as a reaction to the anxiety of humanity’s increasingly discordant relationship with the environment and increasing loss of authenticity and spirituality. Additionally, political and social problems influenced architecture as well.
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Features of Expressionism
It is through this concern for intensive expression that individual styles generally gained the mark of Expressionism. Here are the main features of an expressionist artist:
- The conception of architecture as a work of art
- Distortion of form for an emotional effect
- Themes of natural romantic phenomena
- Uses creative potential of artisan craftsmanship
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Erich Mendelsohn was a German architect and a pioneer of modern design. Starting with a sculptural and emotional approach, he became closer to the International Style. Further, he is well known for his Expressionist architecture in the 1920s, as well as for including dynamism in his works for department stores and cinemas.
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Expressionist painters sought only to depict nature expressing their feelings about what they saw. Thus, it was a more individual, personal kind of art. The roots of Expressionist art can be traced back to the wonderful landscapes by Turner.
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“The Scream” by Munch is an autobiographical experience of a scream piercing through nature while on a walk. The continuous curves of Art Nouveau tell a subjective linear fusion obliged upon nature. But man is part of nature, and absorption into such a totality liquidates the individual.
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Expressionist films were born out of Germany’s isolation and approved by an international audience. Many European producers mimicked the absurd and unique aesthetics of German cinema. Expressionist films wanted to convey the inner experience of their subjects. Here are famous examples:
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) directed by Fritz Lang
- Nosferatu (1922) directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
- Metropolis (1926) directed by Fritz Lang
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Info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Expressionism