Expressionism (1910-1930)

 Expressionism is famous as a European cultural movement of the 1910-1930 years, which also includes Literature, Music, Theater, and Architecture.

'Apocalyptic Landscape'
‘Apocalyptic Landscape’_ Ludwig Meidner, 1913

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The Beginnings

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 was founded in Germany: Die Brücke (‘The Bridge’). With the turn of the century in Europe, changes in artistic styles erupted as a response to important changes in society. Artists reflected the psychological disruption brought by these sudden developments with an emotional and psychological rendering of things.

'Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare' by Claude Monet
“Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare” by Claude Monet – 1877

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Expressionist Architecture

Expressionism spread simultaneously in various towns across Germany as a reaction to the sense of anxiety about humanity’s increasingly discordant relationship with the environment and increasing loss of feelings of authenticity and spirituality. The political and social problems also influenced architecture.

fritz höger, kirche am hohenzollernplatz, berlin 1930-1933
kirche am hohenzollernplatz, berlin 1930-1933. architect: fritz höger (1877-1949)

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bruno taut, onkel toms hütte, berlin 1926-1932
detached house, waldsiedlung onkel toms hütte, berlin 1926-1932. architect/planning: bruno taut(1880-1938)

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Expressionism Features

It is through this concern for intensive expression that individual styles generally gained the mark of Expressionism. Here are the main features of an Impressionist 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.
Der Wasserturm
Der Wasserturm – Erich Heckel -1910

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2019-12-31 01-02 Frankfurt 134 Städel Museum, Erich Heckel - Dangaster Landschaft
Erich Heckel – Dangaster Landschaft_ Frankfurt 134 Städel Museum

Image source: by Allie_Caulfield

Erich Mendelsohn

Erich Mendelsohn was a German architect and a pioneer of modern design. Starting with a sculptural and emotional approach, he became more closer to the International Style. 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.

Erich Mendelsohn- Mossehaus, 1921-23
Mossehaus (1921–1923) – Berlin

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Erich Mendelsohn, portrait.

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File:La tour Einstein (Potsdam, Allemagne) (9616566364).jpg
The Einstein Tower, (Potsdam, Allemagne)
Image source: by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France

Expressionist Painting

Impressionist painters sought only to depict nature expressing their feelings about what they saw. It was a more individual, personal kind of art. The roots of Expressionist art can be traced back to the wonderful landscapes by Turner.

Joseph Mallord William Turner - Dinner in a Great Room with Figures in Costume [c.1830-35]
Joseph Mallord William Turner – Dinner in a Great Room with Figures in Costume [c.1830-35]
Image source: by Gandalf’s Gallery

Le Jour ni l’Heure 7975 : Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851, Dinant, Bouvignes et Crèvecœur, gouache et aquarelle sur papier, c. 1839, Londres, Tate Gallery, Paris, musée Jacquemart-André, exp. Turner, lundi 28 septembre 2020, 12:47:32
Joseph Mallord William Turner,- c. 1839-Tate Gallery, Paris

Image source: by Renaud Camus

The Scream, by Munch, is an autobiographical experience of a scream piercing through nature while on a walk. His mind was not in a normal state, Munch depicts a style that can destroy a human being. 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.

Munch, The scream, 1893

Image source: by Nickogibson

Expressionist Cinema

Expressionist films were born out of Germany’s isolation. The films’ were approved by an international audience. Many European producers had begun trying 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.
'Metropolis' (1927 film)
‘Metropolis’ (1927 film)

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