Facts About German Expressionism

Facts About German Expressionism

The term expressionism is derived from the Latin “expressio” (expression). Expressionism is translated as “art of heightened expression”. The German Expressionism is defined as a movement in art that began in the early 20th century. German expressionism artists depicted emotions rather than reality through their paintings. Some of the most famous German Expressionism artists were Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Erich Heckel, Max Pechstein, Gabriele Munter and many more. Read on to know more facts about German Expressionism.

The Emergence of German Expressionism

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch painted his most famous work “The Scream” in 1890. Although, this painting was a more than decade early than the beginning of the expressionist period, this picture is considered as the first painting of expressionism.

Expressionism does not have its roots in Germany. It emerged from French Fauvism. During 1905 – 1908, the Fauvists wanted to exhibited their works that would enhance their own expression rather than present reality. The Fauvists were also called “the wild animals”.

Many artists of German Expressionism like Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch drew their inspiration from The Fauvists.


Renowned artists of Fauvism were Henri Matisse and Andre Derain.

Features and Facts About German Expressionism

German Expressionists’ works focused on the role of individual in the theme of their art.

During the prewar period of the Wilhelmine Empire, industrialization was shaping the society and increasing the gap between the rich and poor. The Expressionists began to protest against the bourgeois through their paintings. Hence, they sought to expressing their individuality through their art.

Their Work Protested Against the Change Brought in Society

Through their work, they reflected that a person was more than just a building block of the whole society. They sought to arouse the men against the “masters”.

A Movement That Was Comprised of Artists

Even though, Expressionism is regarded as a movement. In fact, it was. Expressionism was a rare movement whose partakers were painters, drama artists, novelists, and poets too.

Expressionist Literature

The expressionist literati differentiated themselves from other writing styles and broke the commonly followed rules of grammar. Some of the famous literature expressionists were Else Lasker-Schüler and Jakob van Hoddis. The expressionist poetry, like expressionist art was condemned and even purposely destroyed.

Expressionist Cinema and Drama

Georg Kaiser and Bertolt Brecht were the famous Expression Dramatists. The Theatre Expressionism emphasized on spiritual awakening through plays and dramatization. They play themes were based on the struggle against bourgeois and industrial domination.

Short-lived and Limited to Germany

Expressionism reached its peak in Germany during the 1920s and ended in about 1925. Besides, it did not reach anyone outside Germany because of Germany’s isolation in the World War I.

The End of German Expressionism

German Expressionism ended shortly after the First World War in 1925. Beginning in 1910, expressionism was brought out in forms of dance, drama, literature and paintings. After it ended, it continued to appear in in stories, cinema and, movies.



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