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Expressionism


Art in which the emotions of an artist are paramount over a rational and faithful-to-life rendering of subject matter, it is conveyed by distortion of color, surface and shapes.  Because of emphasis on carefully-executed method, Impressionism is the opposite of Expressionism.  The term Expressionism appears to have been coined by Herwarth Walden in 1911 in the publication, "Sturm", which he served as editor.  Originally the term referenced all modernist or progressive movements from the inception of Cubism and Fauvism.  Today, the meaning is more specific in that it refers to one specific early 20th century art movement emanating primarily from Germany.  Much Expressionism was prompted by desires for social reform, psychological and spiritual issues. Expressionist style was simple, bold and colorful with large areas of unbroken color and dramatic brushwork.  Although the movement remains associated with modernism, it had roots further back historically.  Late Medieval and early Renaissance Expressionist artists were Hieronymus Bosch (fl 1488-1516) and Matthias Grunewald, (fl. 1475-1528).  Spanish artist El Greco (1541-1614) had dramatic Expressionist distortion in his figure paintings.   In the 19th Century, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Paul Gaughin (1848-1903) led the first phase of what is officially defined by art historians as the Expressionist movement.  From France, the movement spread to Germany and to Norway where Edward Munch (1863-1944) embraced the style.  American artists much influenced by Expressionism include Marsden Hartley, George Grosz, Max Weber, Ben Shahn, Ivan Albright, Abraham Ratner, Jack Levine, Karl Knaths and Philip Evergood. After World War II in America, elements of Expressionism evolved into Abstract Expressionism.  Sources: "The Britannica Encyclopedia of American Art";  "Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art"; Robert Atkins, ART SPOKE




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