German Expressionism: Impulsive Art

  German Expressionism emerged in the early 20th century. From Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to Max Beckmann, artists were extremely enthusiastic about creation. It can be said in the history of art is unprecedented. They have made bold innovations in techniques, lines, colors and many other aspects, and they are in their own way. With the emergence of the expressionist societies “Bridge Society” and “Blue Rider Society”, German art ushered in the most glorious golden years, regarded as a turning point in the turbulent and crisis-ridden years, during which it experienced the “World War I” , which lasted until the 1920s.
  The “Bridge Society” established in Dryden in 1905 is considered to be the starting point of expressionism, and its members included Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, etc. They strike people’s eyes and inspire emotional responses with their clean, twisted lines and heavy, unnatural colors. Another society, the Blue Rider Society, was launched in Munich in 1911 by the Russians Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. The name of the society comes from a painting by Kandinsky about horses and knights. They focused on abstract forms and bright colors to accentuate the corruption and materialism of the time. The society was disbanded due to the outbreak of the First World War. Their collections reflect the social and aesthetic transformations of that period, dealing with themes of nature, religion, urban life, war, and more.
  Although individuals and groups of expressionism have their own characteristics, they all emphasize the expression of self-feeling. In the early 20th century, artists used boldly simplified and distorted images and exaggerated and dissonant colors to express their rejection of entrenched bourgeois social values ​​and their critiques of outmoded state-sponsored art societies. Directness, frankness, and attention to visual effects are common characteristics of expressionism. Expressionist artists rejected the outdated painting traditions and themes of the mainstream visual culture at that time, and took inspiration from their avant-garde predecessors, such as the European Post-Impressionist painters Paul Gauguin in France and Vincent van Gogh in the Netherlands in the 1890s and Edvard Munch of Norway. In addition to the bold use of color, another important feature of early expressionism was the abstract graphic poster-like composition, and later gradually formed a style that pursued strong contrast, distortion and change.
  In the 1920s, German Expressionism returned from depicting the abstract, romantic and idealized perceptual world to the rational and objective real world. The creation is mainly based on portraits, and representative painters include Max Beckman, Otto Dix, etc. Their stern naturalism sometimes reminds people of the rigorous classical painters, and they depict the social landscape of Weimar period with irony.
  After more than ten years of development and evolution of expressionism, some influential themes and styles have emerged, which profoundly embodies the humanism and ambivalence towards modernity. These involve a fascination with the seductive and vulgar modern city life, the solace of nature and religion, nude portraits that symbolize raw emotions, and the devastating effects of the First World War. Nude portraits were an important theme in expressionist painting, where artists attempted to tap into people and things through gestures, gestures, and expressions. Portrait painting techniques have undergone a revolution in modern times by expressionist artists. They focus on excavating the inner psychology and emotions of the characters, rather than simply depicting the appearance. The resulting exaggerated faces, gestures and expressions are created, while physical distortions enhance the artistic effect.
  Expressionist landscape painting inherited the Romantic tradition, believing that natural landscapes can relieve the stress and degeneration of modern society. Members of the “Blue Rider Society” have traveled to villages near the Alps to sketch and blend in with nature, which inspired them to create colorful abstract landscape paintings. The scenes created by the members of the “Bridge Society” playing with their girlfriends by the lake reflect the movement of returning to nature and nudism, in order to resist the restrained social etiquette of German society in the early period of “World War I”. After the outbreak of the “World War I”, their landscape paintings turned to simplicity and dullness, seeking spiritual solace from nature.
  As industrialization accelerated in the 19th century, Germany’s urban size and population density increased dramatically between 1871, when unity was first achieved, and 1910. Expressionist artists viewed modern cities with ambivalence. On the one hand, they recognize the alienation and dehumanization of urban life, and on the other, they are attracted by the dynamic urban rhythm and richness of urban life. The capital, Berlin, and the largest city, became the place where the Expressionist movement flourished. Artists’ performance of urban contradictions has brought unprecedented visual impact to people.
  Fantasy was also an important theme in Expressionism. After social unrest and war, the unreal world of fantasy has replaced the disappointing and nightmarish reality, and is more favored by artists. They abandoned the real world and reinvented the new world in fantasy, where there were sometimes no human beings at all, and only animals and strange creatures in the pure natural world. In addition, literary themes are incorporated into the work of modern artists, who have published a large selection of works with explanations.
  For expressionist artists, art and religion are closely related and influence each other, and both focus on exploring the inner spiritual world of people. Despite the age of skepticism and philosophical nihilism, the artists produced works on Christian themes that influenced Germany for centuries, including typical themes of creation and rebirth. Figures of prophecy and prophets also frequently appear in their works. And the fear and disgust of World War I led some artists to turn to biblical themes of redemption. This has a lot to do with the religious fantasies of the German Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
  The active and prosperous German expressionist painting art in the early 20th century gave birth to a large number of excellent artists and works. Paying attention to spirituality is the biggest feature of this school. It opposes the mechanical depiction of objective reality, advocates the expression of people’s inner world, emphasizes the expressive power of form, and at the same time has the traditional characteristics of the German nation. Influence.