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5,232 artworks, 476 artists
Expressionism (lat. expressio — expression) as an art movement formed and developed in the first third of the 20th century. Expressionism was most popular in its homeland, Germany and Austria, but it was warmly received almost throughout Europe. This artistic style seeks not so much to describe the external world as to express the emotional state of the creator of an artwork.
The stimulus for the emergence and popularity of expressionism was the grandiose events of the beginning of the century – the First World War and the numerous revolutionary events associated with it. Very few artists could remain aloof from these landmark historical events. Meaningless slaughter, the spiritual crisis of a whole generation, anxiety, fear, pain – the artists who worked in this difficult period had to show these all.
The artists embodied the emotions into bright colours (often numerous shades of red), expressive brushstrokes, tense and sharp contours, hypertrophied images. The classical foundations of painting — perspective, volume, and composition — were of little concern to the expressionists, and some were even disturbed with them.
The expressionists considered the post-impressionists their predecessors: by the end of the 19th century they groped for new possibilities of colour and line not only to reflect the state of the world, but also to convey their attitude to the world. Expressionism rushed deep into the human subconscious, it conveyed emotions, not figurativeness.
In the 1920s, post-war Europe gradually came to life; the importance of expressionism has waned. Fear and horror, a premonition of catastrophe, a complex expressive language of the art movement could not be a lasting incentive for creativity. In the 1930s, the Nazis came to power in Germany and declared the majority of expressionist works to be “degenerative art”, and the artists who painted them, outlawed. However, German emigrant artists continued to work in this style for some time. In the second half of the 20th century, the neo-expressionists continued the art of the expressionists and developed ideas of attitude to the world through the artist’s emotions.