Expressionism: 1905-1925

Timeline created by amazza
  • Introduction to Expressionism

    Rooted in Germany, Expressionism was an artistic movement within 1905 to 1925, though several artists find themselves outside of these years. Many were pessimistic about the modern world and WWI as seen in several of their grotesque images. Expressionism sought to exaggerate the emotional impact of the work through its alteration of color, strokes, and shapes. This movement epitomizes the ideas of intense self-expression, sense, and personal emotional reactions (“Expressionism”).
  • Starry Night

    Starry Night
    Though Van Gogh painted his works prior to the "official" declaration of the Expressionist period, he is still known as one of the most famous artists in this category. His works inspired many of the artists on this list, largely due to his ability to express emotions using broad strokes and bold colors.
  • At Eternity's Gate

    At Eternity's Gate
    Van Gogh created this painting two months before his death (most accept as a suicide) when he was struggling with his health. The colors, patterns, and posture of the subject demonstrate its deep emotional message.
  • Woman with Dead Child

    Woman with Dead Child
    Kathe Kollwitz highlighted the emotion of human suffering in her work, especially as affected by the war. This sketch demonstrates the raw grief of a mother losing her child.
  • The Moment of Birth

    The Moment of Birth
    Alfred Kubin's work is often a mixture of expressionism, symbolism, and surrealism. His sketches are grotesque, creepy, and unsettling. He was drawn to the emotional capability of expressionism.
  • The Clown

    The Clown
    Georges Rouault's use of contrasting colors, disfigured subjects, and deep-rooted emotion is categorized as expressionist. He was heavily influenced by Van Gogh.
  • Music: Second String Quartet

    Music: Second String Quartet
    Arnold Schoenberg was a composer that experimented with tone-centered music. His works once specified a tone, but his works eventually diminished the importance of tone. He "transcends" tonality in his works. This piece even contains a vocal part.
  • Der Blaue Berg (The Blue Mountain)

    Der Blaue Berg (The Blue Mountain)
    Wassily Kandinsky uses the bold colors and broad, expressive brushstrokes of the Expressionists. This painting is more optimistic than many others on the timeline. These elements, along with rather abstract subjects, are part of his known aesthetic.
  • Street, Dresden

    Street, Dresden
    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's painting demonstrates his fascination with how people are perceived on the streets. He was fascinated with the human expression and wished to demonstrate their inner selves through his paintings though he used simple colors and shapes.
  • Weisses Has in Dangast

    Weisses Has in Dangast
    Erich Heckel founded the Die Brucke group, which propelled the popularity of the expressionist movement. He was also inspired by Van Gogh, specifically in the way he expressed emotional despair on canvas.
  • The Scream

    The Scream
    Thought to be painted between 1893 and 1910, Edvard Munch's infamous painting demonstrates key elements of expressionism.
  • Sea of Alsen

    Sea of Alsen
    Emil Nolde, like a few artists on this list, was part of Die Bruke, the expressionist group in Germany. He is known for several of his landscapes and use of large brushstrokes and bold colors.
  • Houses at Night

    Houses at Night
    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was another founder of the expressionist group, Die Bruke, though he differed in subject matter of his paintings. While this painting does depict city life as most Expressionists do, most of his other paintings highlight rural settings. He is also known for his nudes.
  • Self Portrait with Raised Bare Shoulder

    Self Portrait with Raised Bare Shoulder
    Egon Schiele's short career is full of unique aesthetics. His figures are angular and distorted, and many of them are shockingly sexual. His work was a direct display of human sexuality, psychology, and unusual beauty.
  • Literature: "La Morgue" by George Heym

    Literature: "La Morgue" by George Heym
    Heym created short but impactful poetry that incorporated few words, but heavy themes. Like other Expressionists, he focused on the distrust he had with the growing acceptance of Modernism.
  • Stables

    Stables by Franz Marc highlights his love of combining the natural and the abstract, using one of his most loved subjects: the horse. This painting is one of his last major works. It is said that he " saw his subjects as part of a larger unified field and treated them in terms of the overall structure of the composition" which is why the horses and stables look to be one of the same form.
  • Fighting Forms

    Fighting Forms
    Franz Marc's Fighting Forms highlights his fascination with using bold colors and abstract shapes. He was a key figure in the Expressionist movement. He also helped form the group Der Blaue Reiter, which advocated for such features. He was similar to other members in his distrust of the modern world.
  • Explosion

    George Grosz supposedly suffered a mental breakdown during the time this painting was created; knowing that context adds to the violent imagery of broken city elements of the painting. His paintings often depict before and after WWI. He was actually in the army until declared “permanently unfit”.
  • Selbstmord (Suicide)

    Selbstmord (Suicide)
    George Grosz's earlier works were of Expressionist style. Like others of this era, he used WWI as the inspiration for his work. He actually volunteered but was discharged due to a nervous breakdown. This painting depicts the violent emotions associated with the events, using bold reds and distorted figures.
  • Self-Portrait, One Hand Touching the Face

    Self-Portrait, One Hand Touching the Face
    Oskar Kokoschka suffered trauma of all sorts, which is clearly represented in his self-portrait. This painting was created after a failed long-term relationship, a tumultuous time in war, and being shot in the head and stabbed in the lungs. Needless to say, his emotional state cries out from the canvas.
  • Warrior with Pipe

    Warrior with Pipe
    Otto Dix is a WWI veteran who, like many Expressionists, used his experience to inspire his art. He also shared a distrust in the modern life. This painting demonstrates his commonly used method of angular depictions of people, which he used especially in his depictions of soldiers/veterans. This painting also demonstrates his experimentation with the Cubist movement.
  • Lovers

    Paul Klee was another Expressionist associated with the group Der Blaue Reiter. In addition to his expressionist qualities, he also used a lot of abstract technique, playing with color and shapes. This painting is an example of the combination of techniques as the viewer can perceive the intertwined figures through the sections of bold colors and seemingly abstract shapes.
  • Architecture: The Einstein Tower

    Architecture: The Einstein Tower
    This building was designed by Erich Mendelsohn between 1919 and 1921. The structure functions as an observatory and made of brick and cement. It was inspired by Einstein's Theory of Relativity, as it was made to look like it was growing from the ground.
  • Hafen von Leba

    Hafen von Leba
    Another member of Die Bruke, Max Pechstein actually studied to be an artist. He also had roots in Impressionism. Landscapes--such as this painting--and nudes were his specialty.
  • Gelmeroda

    Lyonel Charles Feininger was originally a cartoonist, but found inspiration in the Cubists, though his style is typically seen as a combination of both. Feininger is known for his incorporation of light, demonstrated in the paintings like beams or rays that look like "planes of color." He was eventually invited to be part of the Blue Rider group of avant-garde artists. This work was technically after the movement "ended," but his previous paintings also demonstrate the similar style.
  • Period: to

    Expressionism: Reflection

    The emotional quality of each work speaks to viewers, despite that emotion being a subjective one. Dark truths are revealed in many paintings, as the war had an impact on several of these artists. All subjects use sharp angles, large brushstrokes, and/or bold colors. I think that if the viewer looks at the timeline from beginning to end, he/she will notice that there is almost a build up to the darker works—almost climatic—and then a sense of peace or serenity in the last few works.