Expressive History

At the beginning of the 20th-century the term ‘Expressionism’ was established to represent the style of art and literature that fiercely contrasted Naturalism and Impressionism, which were prevalent art styles in the late 19th-century. Expressionism is considered a modernised art movement and first emerged in Germany, in which artists would distort the reality of their subjects to reflect their own emotions, perceptions and ideas. Where Impressionists sought to communicate the wonder of nature and the human form with realistic representation, Expressionists instead sought to evoke the feelings that corresponded with what they saw.

The visual aesthetics of VincentVan Gogh and Edvard Munch - two predominant precursors of the movement - heavily inspired Expressionism, and artists of the style would employ similar artificially vibrant colour palettes, dynamic brush strokes and exaggerated textures in their artwork. These qualities culminated the avant-garde paintings, with expressionists favouring idiosyncratic, personalised subjects over a true-to-life depictions, adopting a style that would divulge a wonderful glimpse into the artist’s psyche.

Whilst Expressionism developed across Europe and other parts of the world, it had its most direct impact in Germany and continued to shape the country’s art for decades after the First World War. In Germany, Expressionism was not just an aesthetically pleasing style but a progression tightly linked to German history. Between 1910 and 1925 the country was suffering from rapid industrialisation that had led to the destruction of values, fragile relationships and a general feeling of discontentment and disarray. During this time, Expressionism seemed to offer an opportunity for emotional release from the trying times.

Thus, Expressionism is not simply an artistic style, it is a form of creative dialect, with a history that is rooted in deep felt emotion. Explore the use of expressive mark marking and experiment outside the confines of reality to add an emotional dimension to your artwork.

Artwork by Marta Betlej as featured in December 2020 ScrawlrBox

As featured in the December 2020 ScrawlrBox 

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