German Expressionism

I wanted to do some research into this art movement after being recommended to do so by Caitlin.

So what actually is German Expressionism?

-German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning inGermany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin during the 1920s. – (Wikipedia)

-The movement itself occurred with the rebellion against tradition art forms, artists painting in a distorted manner or bold colours and simplified painting to do this. It was a cry by artists and film makers to the  change in social status, trying to raise concerns to humanistic issues (such as the modernity griping society).

This slide show summarised the history for this movement to a more simplified meaning, well for me anyway.

I wanted to have a look into some of the artists involved in this art movement.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner– an artist responsible for the  Die Brücke group, he was highly regarded one of the most talented in this art movement. Highly influenced by the war, his pieces show the true feelings of the people depicted in each artwork. Often displayed as masks, he shows the almost false side to some of those depicted. 

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff– a German print maker and painter, he cofounded the Die Brücke group with Ludwig. Although members of this group often painted urban social settings, Schmidt was known for his rural landscapes.

Schmidt’s work is one that I liked the most due to his bold use of shape in landscapes. Simplifying the buildings to black and white forms, with no shading or tone, it is easy to see how he stood out from the work of the time.

These are just a few of the artists I looked at, however there are many more that have contributed to this movement.

-In Film

German expressionism was also used greatly in film. Developing from the 1910’s in Germany, after a period of isolation, the movement was grasped by film makers world wide. Two of the highest regarded films being ‘Metropolis’ by Flitz Land and ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.’ I mention the second in a previous post.

Full Metropolis film- definitely worth a watch. Video courtesy of The New Pollutants.

The film shows a high technological world with a bleak underworld of workers who are treated badly.

The buildings themselves and depiction of the city itself is so beautiful, reflecting the atmosphere of the ill treated workers perfectly. It is sharp, edgy, reflective of their anger and discomfort. This is exactly what we want to show in our own work.


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