Expressionism

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Expressionism is a way of tipping the scales of a painting from the form to the expression of the content. Expressionist artists aim to increase the emotional impact of a painting on the viewer through colour, twisted forms or aggressive composition. This was achieved perfectly by Emil Nolde in his painting Figure and Mask. Expressionist paintings can be found from the beginning of art, provided that they respond to this intention of shaping reality in order to express inner emotion. For example, the faces of Romanesque paintings or medieval sculptures of monsters from Hell are completely Expressionist. In this sense of the word, some of the great masters are also considered Expressionists, such as El Greco, whose figures were anything but realistic. Edvar Munch was another great exponent of Expressionism as was Van Gogh and some of Gauguin's paintings. At the turn of the 20th century, Expressionism came to be regarded as a characteristic trend within the "isms" of the avant-guard, or rather in opposition to them, especially to the rationalist moderation of Cubism. These movements were closely connected to other artistic forms, such as theatre, music and literature. Schoenberg put music to many of Die Brücke, the first Expressionist group's exhibitions; Kafka, Bertold Brecht and Strindberg occupied the ranks of the dramatists. After the first group's experiences, another group took over, known as Der Blaue Reiter. Its production was vitally important in the history of cinema, a media with which the group (F.W. Murnau, Robert Wiene, Fritz Lang and Max Mack) interacted regularly. Expressionism was very closely linked to Germany during the first half of the 20th century, a connection that was rounded off with the stylistic alliance with architects of the so-called Novembergruppe. However, from 1950, the North Americans took over the name in what has been described as Abstract Expressionism of the fifties and sixties.


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