Neo-Expressionism (1980-present)

Neo-expressionism, mainly based on the German Expressionist movement, spread throughout Europe and the United States.

Julian Schnabel's Hope (1982): A blurry painting of various spooky creatures in bright, contrasting colors.
Julian Schnabel’s Hope (1982)

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Neo-Expressionism Architecture

Neo-Expressionist Architecture is linked to some unique structures, and it is the style of many large public buildings, like museums and concert halls. Moreover, expressionist architects wanted buildings to evoke feelings or emotions. Thus, the style of architecture is subjective and easier to define in four points:

  • Avoids geometric rigor
  • Abandons rules of prior styles
  • Highly personal pieces
  • Unique works of the creators
New Delhi's Lotus Temple: A large white arched building in three distinct pieces.
New Delhi’s Lotus Temple

Image source: by Peking.Duck

Masters of Neo-Expressionism

Eero Saarinen started his career as an apprentice under his father. Later, his most important commission, the TWA Flight Center, is the apex of his previous works and a demonstration of his technical abilities.

TWA Flight Center Open House NYC -  designed by Eero Saarinen.
TWA Flight Center (1962) designed by Eero Saarinen

Image source: by Kai Brinker

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid is the queen of contemporary iconic architecture. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. Additionally, Hadid’s designs are characterized by their dynamic formal qualities of curving lines. Further, one of her famous works is the MAXXI in Rome.

National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010) by MAXXI.
National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010) by MAXXI

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010), Rome, Italy: Interior metal staircase.
National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (1998–2010) by MAXXI

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

Neo-Expressionist Painting

Neo-Expressionism spread throughout Germany, where new generations felt the need to distinguish themselves from the horrors of the Holocaust. Thus, the style returned to figuration in expressive, gestural, and sometimes brashly aggressive art pieces.

Galerie Michael Schultz, Art Exhibition of German Neo-Expressionism
Painting by Galerie Michael Schultz

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Neuen Wilden

Neuen Wilden, or the “New Savages,” was a group of German expressionist painters active in the eighties in Berlin, Germany. Additionally, the most relevant cities for the movement were Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. Sometimes the term is also employed with international Neo-expressionism.  Usually, the word describes a group of younger artist, followers of a “screaming” and gestural painting, with violent and dissonant tones.

 Nachtessen in Dresden [Supper in Dresden] by Georg Baselitz, 1983.: A blurry painting of four men spread throughout the photo, they look scared, upset and are shown in bright colors with expressive faces.
Nachtessen in Dresden (1983) by Georg Baselitz

 Image source: by (Norman Rosenthal,The Guardian,

Italian Neo-Expressionism

In 1979, Italian art critic and curator Achille Bonito Oliva created an introduction for an exhibition he organized in the town of Genazzano. Titled “Le Stanze,” the show hosted a small group of young painters whose works resembled the Expressionist painting at a time when conceptual art ruled the art-world. In addition, Oliva described the pieces included as “Transavanguardia.”

'Musica Ebbra', painting by Enzo Cucchi, 1982.
‘Musica Ebbra’ (1982) by Enzo Cucchi

Image source:’Musica_Ebbra’,_painting_by_Enzo_Cucchi,1982.jpg

The IDLENESS OF SISYPHUS, SandroChia, 1981,Permanent collection of MoMA, New York.
The IDLENESS OF SISYPHUS (1981) by Sandro Chia

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