Expressionism is one of the most important epochs of visual art in the 20th century. Expressionist artists shifted their focus away from trying to reproduce reality and put their subjective world views on canvas. The best-known and most influential artist groups of this style were the "Brücke" from Dresden and "Der Blaue Reiter" from the Munich area.

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At the beginning of the 20th century, Expressionism heralded ground-breaking changes in art and was to become one of the most important currents of classical modernism. It developed as a reaction to the prevailing conditions in art and society and found many adherents in painting and sculpture and other art forms such as literature, music, theatre, and film. The representatives of Expressionist art defined themselves by distinguishing themselves from the popular styles of Impressionism, Realism and Naturalism. Moreover, they reflected the fundamental changes in society and politics in their works. Under the impression of advancing industrialisation, rationalisation and anonymisation and, finally, two world wars, there was a growing desire for an unadorned style of expression that was strongly influenced by the artist's emotional world.

Emotional Expression and Strong Colour - The Characteristics of Expressionist Art

Even though the overarching concept and the courage to innovate united the progressive artists of that epoch, it is difficult to find a uniform and universally valid definition of Expressionism in terms of artistic expression. However, some parallels and commonalities can be identified: The main characteristic was the shift from a realistic and detailed rendering of motifs to an interpretative and subjective view. Therefore, the surfaces became larger, and the motif's shapes were reduced to the essentials. In addition, Expressionist pictures were dominated by strong colours and complementary contrasts. Many artists simultaneously worked on theoretical writings to explain and intellectually substantiate their concepts. Among the most important are "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" (1911) and "Point and Line to Plane" (1926), two publications by the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky that had an impact on the Bauhaus and far beyond.

Expressionist Pioneers in Dresden and Art Revolution in the Alpine Foothills - "Die Brücke" and "Der Blaue Reiter"

Expressionism, as it is perceived today, is a predominantly German phenomenon and spread to many regions of the country. However, without a doubt, it was "Die Brücke" and "Der Blaue Reiter" that were the largest, most influential, and best-known artists groups of this style today. The Expressionist movement found its first organised form in Dresden. In 1905, the architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl founded the painters' association "Die Brücke", which was to be joined by many other artists in the following years, for example, Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde. From 1911 onwards, another community developed in Munich and the surrounding area among artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, August Macke and Alexej von Jawlensky, who organised exhibitions together and became known as the "Blaue Reiter". Both groups of artists sometimes differed significantly in their world view, their style, and their conception of the artistic mission. Yet the progressive painting style of Expressionist art was to influence all subsequent generations of artists.

Works of Expressionism at ars mundi

Today, many Expressionist works of art are symbols of Modern Art. Our range includes numerous famous motifs from this epoch in authentic and brilliant reproductions, such as Wassily Kandinsky's "Yellow-Red-Blue", Franz Marc's "Blue Horse", Max Pechstein's "Sunset at Leba's Port" or Alexej von Jawlensky's "Abstract Head", and sculptures such as Emil Nolde's "Java Dancer" or Ernst Barlach's "Shepherd in a Storm".