ABSTRACT There are many examples of expressionistic art



There are many examples of expressionistic art
that evoke feelings of happiness, sadness, anger or even anxiety to their
audience. As mentioned in the targeted article though, ‘it might be impossible
to sum up the emotions with neat labels – happy, sad or angry. When we are
unable to describe the emotion expressed in a work of art in (other) words we
tend to use the short phrase ‘expressive’. ‘ (Barwell,
1986). Prompted to better understand the meaning of the word, I found according
to Oxford Dictionaries, that ‘expressive’ is defined as ‘effectively conveying
thought or feeling’ with some of its synonyms being ‘artistic’, ‘colourful’ etc.

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With this in mind, this article will discuss
the concept of expressionism and how different artists are able provoke emotions
from their audience through their work. Upon the examination of both the visual
and theoretical aspects of expressionism, this article will analyse the various
techniques used to do so using case studies of famous expressionists through
the years, like Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee etc and
distinguishing between the different forms of expressionistic art.Great art can provide us with the most engaging and valuable
experiences a person can have. It is not all about the end result you will
stare at the exhibition space, but rather how it manipulates and controls your
senses and emotions and challenges your intelligence which makes it special.
These particular details can be found in a very limited number of art
movements, with the most common being the expressionistic. Out of all the art
movements which ever existed, expressionism is often found the most elusive and
difficult to define though. According to dictionary.com, expressionism in fine
art can be defined as ‘a manner of painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., in which
forms derived from nature are distorted or exaggerated and colours are
intensified for emotive or expressive purposes.’ As a matter of fact,This research project sets
out to investigate the significance of the expressionistic movement throughout
the years and how countless artists used different techniques and ideas to
achieve these results. By analysing critiques
based on famous expressionistic artworks and literature pieces highlighting the
most notable ways of achieving the desired emotions from the audiences, this
article will aim to form a guide which can be used by anyone who is interested
in investigating the expressionistic movement through their work.As a matter of fact, nowadays
when an artist exaggeratedly distorts a piece of his work or when the artwork
appears to be created in a spontaneous manner, the artist can be named as an
expressionist.Based on several artistic
perceptions, the movement meant so much more. Expressionism was defined by the
concept behind the actual paintings of the movement and it was mostly based on self-expression
and freedom. What expressionists were trying to achieve through their work was
to recreate the expressions we get on our faces into works of art, expressing
their deep-rooted feelings and impose their own perceptions of the world around
them. Techniques EXPRESSIONISM 1900s –
initial phase of the expressionistic movement emerged in the late 19th
– early 20th century in various cities across Germany, lasted from approximately
1905 to 1920 and later expanded throughout Europe. Mainly because of the World
War I which was taking place at the time, there was an extensive
feeling of anxiety about humanity’s conflicting relationship with the world which
was developing throughout the years. Artists like Edvard Munch and James Ensor were
notably influential, with their work being focused on the ‘distortion of form
and the deployment of strong colours’ (The Art Story,
2017) to express their strong feelings of anxiety and desire about the
era.  Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)Influencing this
movement with his work, Vincent Van Gogh could be characterized as advocate of
expressionism, even though he died before the movement even started (Vangoghmuseum.nl, n.d.). Throughout his short life
(1853-1890), the Dutch artist who was a post-impressionist painter, had a very
unique and notable artistic style, focusing mainly on emotions and colours (Biography.com, 2017). In his work, his choice of colours and
the paint application techniques, were often presented as a reference to the
expressionistic techniques which were used later on, with the swirling strokes
being one of the most significant examples (The Art Story, 2017). Particularly
in his work ‘Starry Night’, the swirling motions, colours and lines on the
74x92cm oil painting highlight the feelings and beliefs of the artist
(Bartleby.com, 2016). NEEDS INTRO As Van Gogh
tried to explain to his brother through his letter, ‘Instead of trying to
reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use colour more arbitrarily, in
order to express myself forcibly. … But the picture is not yet finished. To
finish it I am now going to be the arbitrary colourist. I exaggerate the
fairness of the hair, I even get to orange tones, chromes and pale
citron-yellow’ (Webexhibits.org, 1988), proof that the artist
himself was using these techniques long before the movement begun. Edvard Munch (1863-1944)Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a Norwegian artist mostly known
for his expressionistic work and he was one of the leading artists of the
movement. His artistic influences included mostly impressionists and
post-impressionists with Vincent Van Gogh being one of them as we can clearly
see some similarities between the two artist’s work (https://www.edvardmunch.org,
n.d.) His painting ‘The Scream’ is one of the most famous artworks of the movement
which can be said that combines most of the techniques that were used by
expressionists. The swirling and exaggerated brushstrokes in the painting is
one of the main ways that Munch is expressing his emotions. Using a palette of
strong and unnatural colours and featuring distorted forms allows the audience
to experience the certain events of the artist’s life which led him in creating
this masterpiece (The Art of Education, n.d.). According to Munch’s diaries
from the 1890s, he wanted to turn one of his memories of walking along a path
with some of his friends, into a depiction of his feelings at the time, the
melancholy and a vivid nature scream (Munch, Eggum and Wood, 1992). While
reading this influential painting, critics have identified a very important
element to it, that even if the artwork was black and white (lithography of
painting ‘The Scream’), it still retains its strong effect due to the powerful
motion of the lines (Art & Critique, 2007). Paul Klee (1879-1940)In contrary to
Munch’s work, Paul Klee (1879-1940) who was also an expressionist around the
same period, used entirely different techniques in his artworks while at the
same time both artists represented the same movement. The German artist mainly
focused on the use of sharp lines and shapes and a colour palette with bright colours
to amuse his audience through his work. One of his most famous artworks, the ‘Red
Balloon’ a 31.7×31.1cm oil painting which he completed in 1922, was considered
as colourful display of geometric shapes. The main focus of the painting was
the vibrant red balloon right in the centre which gives a whimsical and alive
aspect to the painting (Paul-klee.org, 2016). The artist, who even wrote his
own book ‘Creative confession’ where he introduced his own theories on colour
and forms (Bauhaus100.de, 2016), chose vibrant colours such as red, yellow,
blue and green in order to represent his emotions (Paul-klee.org, 2016). According
to Paul Klee, he wanted to ‘…be as though newborn, knowing nothing, absolutely
nothing about Europe… to be almost primitive’. The artist’s main vision was
to revert to his childhood-self, his innocent years and for his work to being
able to stand out on its own. Not everyone perceived the message of the
painting as the artist intended though. The art Critic Harold Rosenberg beg to
differ with this statement as he believed that Klee’s work showed an ignorance
of all the ‘innovative’ moments in art that were happening around him whereas
the Nazis described his work as ‘degenerate’ because of the meanness of the
Third Reich and the war that was happening at the time which influenced their
opinion. Through this, it is understood that the usual expressionistic
techniques are not the only way to interpret an artwork differently. In this
case, the period in which the painting came to light, directly influenced its
view, creating contrasting emotions amongst people and the artist (The Art
Story, 2017). ABSTRACT
EXPRESSIONISM 1940s -1960sAbstract
expressionism (1940-1960) was an American post–World War II art movement which
was mainly influenced from expressionism combined with other movements of that
era, including futurism and cubism. It was the first specifically American
movement to achieve worldwide influence with the term being mentioned for the
first time in the German magazine Der Sturm (The Storm) in 1919, a magazine
covering the expressionism era, featuring the German Expressionism movement (Abstract Expressionism, 2017). A few years
later, in 1929, the American art historian Alfred Barr was the first to use
this term in association to Wassily Kandinsky’s work. Later on, during a time
of despair and emotional intensity because of the war, artists
like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko among others were the
first ones to embody features of the initial phase of expressionism in a more
abstract form in their work, making them the first generation of abstract
expressionists. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)Even
though Wassily Kandinsky may not have invented pure abstraction in the arts, as
he and his supporters liked to claim, the history of abstract expressionism
couldn’t be told without him. The Russian artist who was born before the
expressionism movement and died a few years in the abstract era (1866-1944), was
credited with creating one of the first recognised abstract works (Tate, n.d.). The fact that the artist was believed to
have had synaesthesia – a neurological condition in which the stimulation of
one of our senses can involuntarily provoke another sense (Banissy, Jonas and
Cohen Kadosh, 2014), reflected in his artworks as he exploited the correlation
between shapes and colours in order to immerse the public into an engaging
journey through sound, sight and emotions (The Art Story, n.d.). His work was
often found divisive as he used a vast range of techniques to achieve the emotional
outcomes he desired and that made some of his artworks distinctively different
in a way that it wasn’t clear that they were from the same artist. At the centre
of Kandinsky’s achievement are the works he referred to as his
“Compositions.” Composition VII 
(1913), an oil painting measured 200x300cm, was considered to be the
apex of the artist’s work before the WWI. Kandinsky’s ‘swirling hurricanes’ of
shapes, lines and colours are used instead of the standard pictorial
representations which he previously experimented with in order to elucidate his
beliefs that his artworks could stimulate sounds in the same way that music
could exemplify colours and forms in his own mind.  His colour choices, forms and shapes depicted in
his work, are the primary method he used to express his emotions to the audience.
The strong colours which created the abstracted glyphs and the hidden symbols,
were only used as references to his religious beliefs, allowing the public to
interpret his work and allow their own feelings in their own way. In contrary
to this one, his next Composition VIII (1923), an oil painting measured
140x201cm, was characterized as a polar opposite. Influenced by the Suprematism
movement and the fact that he taught at the Bauhaus School at the time, the
geometric order of the painting was considered an inspired mix of flat surfaces
of colour and lines. Shapes and forms, in contrast to colours, structured the well-balanced
artwork, a method he continued using until the end of his career as he believe
that the ‘hard-edge’ style could convey the deeper meaning of his work in a
better way (The Art Story, n.d.). Jackson Pollock  NEO EXPRESSIONISM
1970s – 1990s

Expressionism was an art movement that was formed around the 1970s until the
1990s which rejected the restrictions and taboos against the imagery of the
time that was set by the Minimalist and Conceptual teachers and revived the
main elements of both German and Abstract Expressionism. In the work of the
Neo-Expressionists, there was a variety of cultural-mythological, historical
and erotic themes which were often of great scale. Artists like Georg Baselitz,
Sandro Chia and Francesco Clemente etc. were among the pioneers of the Neo-Expressionism


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