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The artist expresses only what he has within himself, not what he sees with his eyes. -- Alexei von Jawlensky Quote

Expressionist painters focus on themselves, and less on the subject. Many of the artists witnessed first hand the effects of modern warfare and the destruction of their homeland. Georges Rouault stated "Anyone can revolt. It is more difficult silently to obey our own inner promptings, and to spend our lives finding sincere and fitting means of expression for our temperament and our gifts."

Expressionist art was conceived in opposition of Impressionism.  The Expressionist craved emotional drama, pure color and innovation. Max Beckmann asserted "Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement: for transfiguration, not for the sake of play. It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make." Expressionist painters look inward at their own emotions, and less on the outside world. Painters of the Expressionist generation grew up on the battlefield, witnessing wartime atrocities and returning to war ravaged countries.

German Expressionists painters, 
Egon Schiele,  George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka  dominated the art scene with powerful, emotional work based on the human struggle and futility of war. Their art-work was born in a world of confusion and social collapse.  Egon Schiele wrote "I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds."

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with Expressionst Painting -   Germany, early 20th century, emotional effects, emotional experience, avant-garde, emotional angst, Herwarth Walden, Der Sturm, graphic art, Die Brücke, Der Blaue Reiter, Friedrich Nietzsche, psychological depths, symbolic colors, exaggerated imagery, human psyche, exaggeration, primitivism, jarring colors, self-expression, expression intensity, printmaking, psychological,emotional themes, existential anguish, industrial modern age, individual genius, sense of movement, energy

The Greatest Expressionist Painters of All Time

Francis Bacon   British, 1909-1992   Expressionist Painter

James Ensor  Belgian, 1860-1949  Expressionist Painter

Alexei Jawlensky  Russian, 1864-1941  Expressionist Painter

Ernst Kirchner  German, 1880-1938   Expressionist Painter

Paul Klee  Swiss, 1879-1940 Expressionist Painter

August Macke  German, 1887-1914   Expressionist Painter

Franz Marc  German, 1880-1916  Expressionist / Fauvist

Edvard Munch Norwegian, 1863-1944  Symbolist/Expressionist

Emil Nolde German, 1867-1956  Expressionist Painter

Rouault  French, 1871-1958   Expressionist Painter

Egon Schiele Austrian, 1890-1918   Expressionist Painter






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examples of expressionist paintings (click to enlarge)

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