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Expressionism

Amid the destruction of World War I, German and Austrian Expressionists responded to the anxiety of modern life.

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Expressionism and City Life


Expressionism and City Life

Through their art, German and Austrian Expressionists expressed their conflicted views of urban life.


Expressionist Portraits

Expressionist portraits reveal more than just what people look like.


Expressionism and Nature

For the German Expressionists, nature was an arena for healing and freedom.


Expressionist Depictions of War

German Expressionists, many of whom fought in World War I, depicted the shattering experience of war.


Many members of the Expressionist movement were conflicted about life in the city. On one hand, they were disgusted by the materialistic lifestyle of the middle class in Germany’s big cities. On the other, they enjoyed the excitement and bustling activity that cities offered. Early Expressionist street scenes are filled with depictions of nightclubs and wealthy theater-goers as well as scenes of loneliness and isolation. After World War I, however, artists began to see the city as an extension of the battlefield, as they struggled with the ravaging effects of war on their collective psyche and on the country’s economy and people.

An international artistic movement in art, architecture, literature, and performance that flourished between 1905 and 1920, especially in Germany and Austria, that favored the expression of subjective emotions and experience over depictions of objective reality. Conventions of Expressionist style include distortion, exaggeration, fantasy, and vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of color.

Multimedia

AUDIO: Curator Starr Figura describes Berlin during the Expressionist period

AUDIO: Curator Starr Figura discusses Kirchner’s Street, Berlin