1.5.5.1 Expressionism I (1905-1917)

Forward to 1.5.5.2 Expressionism II (1917-1936)
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QUICK LINKS:
Masks Confronting Death, Ensor
The Madonna, Munch
The Scream, Munch
Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm, Munch
Puberty, Munch
Tournee de Chat Noir, Steinlein
The Dance of Life, Munch
Angel Fernández de Soto, Picasso
The Blue Rider, Kandinsky
Girl in a Chemise, Picasso
Interior, My Dining Room, Kandinsky
Nude on a Sofa, Heckel
Self-Portrait Nude, Schiele
Head of a Woman, von Jawlensky
Semi-nude Woman with Hat, Kirchner
Little Blue Horse, Marc
The Prophet, Nolde
Berlin Street Scene, Kirchner
Juan Gris, Modigliani
Seated Nude, Modigliani
Paul Guillame, Modigliani
Bride and Groom, Modigliani
Léopold Zborowski, Modigliani
Chaim Soutine, Modigliani

Expressionism is a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Northern Europe around the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists have sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.

Expressionism developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including expressionist architecture, painting, literature, theatre, dance, film and music.

The term is sometimes suggestive of angst. In a historical sense, much older painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco are sometimes termed expressionist, though the term is applied mainly to 20th-century works. The Expressionist emphasis on individual and subjective perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic styles such as Naturalism and Impressionism.

[Source: Wikimedia commons]

[1551-10]


Image source: Wikimedia commons
 A group of masked figures confronts the figure of Death, centrally situated and draped in white, a color that infiltrates the entire picture. Composed of masks adorned with drapery, hats, and even blue glasses, the arrangement of figures recalls Ensor’s earlier still-life compositions. The ubiquitous masks in Ensor’s work were likely based on those sold in his family’s curiosity shop a few floors below his studio. He explained, “The mask means to me: freshness of color, sumptuous decoration, wild unexpected gestures, very shrill expressions, exquisite turbulence.” In this painting, the fantastical masked inventions appear to come alive and challenge Death—perhaps a reflection of the artist’s preoccupation with mortality and his hope that he might prevail against its inevitable dominion.
[Source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Masks Confronting Death1888Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Ensor, James1860-1949, aged 89Belgian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-11]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA81 x 100  
Madonna, an erotic nude floating inside a blood-red border full of wiggling spermatozoa and, at the lower left, a ghoulish fetus—is one of the most provocative images in Munch’s intensely psychological oeuvre.

While Munch’s title makes blasphemous reference to the Virgin Mary, his dreamlike figure, at once powerful and submissive, conflates that traditional Christian subject with other, more threatening female archetypes of the sort he often mined to develop his themes of longing, jealousy, anxiety, and death.

To heighten the charge in his paintings and prints, he forged a modern style involving pulsating rings of colour, sometimes offset by black.
[Source: moma.org]

Image source: moma.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Madonna, The1892-5Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Munch, Edvard1863 – 1944, aged 80Norwegian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-12]

Nasjonalgalleriet, Universitetsgata 13, 0164 Oslo, Norway90 x 68  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
The Scream is the popular name given to a composition created by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch in 1893. The original German title given by Munch to his work was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), and the Norwegian title is Skrik (Shriek).

The agonised face in the painting has become one of the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolising the anxiety of the human condition. Munch recalled that he had been out for a walk at sunset when suddenly the setting sun’s light turned the clouds ‘a blood red’. He sensed an ‘infinite scream passing through nature’.

Scholars have located the spot to a fjord overlooking Oslo, and have suggested other explanations for the unnaturally orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister’s commitment at a nearby lunatic asylum.

Munch created two versions in paint and two in pastels, as well as a lithograph stone from which several prints survive. Both of the painted versions have been stolen, but since recovered. One of the pastel versions commanded the fourth highest nominal price paid for an artwork at a public auction.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Scream, The1893Oil/Tmp/PstlGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Munch, Edvard 1863 – 1944, aged 80Norwegian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-33]

Stolen from the Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo91 x 74  

Image source: britishmuseum.org
From the outset Munch achieved a freedom of expression through black and white lithography which was to make it his preferred graphic medium for the rest of his career. Gerd Woll identifies twelve subjects as having been executed in Berlin, prior to his move to Paris from February 1896 to April 1897 where he had access to the facilities of Auguste Clot’s workshop and the added advantage of a sophisticated interest among artistic circles in original lithography.

Berlin could not offer the same stimulus, but the lithographs he made there showed considerable daring and mastery in his use of the medium, working directly on the stone, although later he practised transfer lithography as well.
(Source: Frances Carey, ‘Modern Scandinavian Prints’)
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm1895LithographPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Munch, Edvard 1863 – 1944, aged 80Norwegian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-13]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA45 x 32  
Puberty was created between 1894 and 1895. It follows his general impressionistic style.Towards the latter end of the 1880’s and on into the middle of the 1890’s, Edvard created a series of pieces referred to as his Puberty period. This was one of them. He was in his mid-twenties during this period. This painting is considered to be the spark that led to the increase in the expression of his personal feelings in his artwork.

At the centre of the painting is a young girl. She is of about the age of puberty. There is speculation that Edvard used a model for the girl. Part of the reasoning behind this thought is the amount of detail in the collar bone area suggesting he had a live model to paint from.
[Source: edvardmunch.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Puberty1895OilPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Munch, Edvard1863 – 1944, aged 80Norwegian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-14]

Nasjonalgalleriet, Universitetsgata 13, 0164 Oslo, Norway152 x 110  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Rodolph Salis established the Chat Noir (The Black Cat) as an artistic cabaret in Montmartre in 1881, and it soon became a popular gathering place for Montmartre’s rising artists and writers.

Beginning in 1892, Salis organised a company of performers from the cabaret to go on tour during the summer months.

This large poster by Théophile Steinlen, one of the important artists whose career was launched at the Chat Noir, would have served as a kind of ‘coming attractions’ announcement to be posted outside the venues hosting the tour.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Tournee du Chat Noir1896OilPoster
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Steinlen, Théophile1859 – 1923, aged 64Swiss painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-15]

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona, Spain61 x 92  
The Dance of Life illustrates of a metaphor. Life is not in fact a dance and metaphor is too vague to give much indication of what is intended.

The picture, however, appears to be a more complex and personalised version of Woman in Three Stages, with an innocent woman in white on the left, a sensual woman dancing with the man, and an anguished woman in black on the right. All three resemble Tulla Larsen; the girls dancing in the background may also represent her. The man in the foreground appears to be Munch.
[Source: edvardmunch.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Dance of Life, The1899-1900Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Munch, Edvard1863 – 1944, aged 80Norwegian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-16]

National Museum of Art, Universitetsgata 13, 0164 Oslo, Norway126 x 190  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Portrait of Angel Fernández de Soto is a study of a young Spanish artist sitting in a bar, shrouded in tobacco smoke from a pipe, with a glass of absinthe in front of him.

The young man, Fernández de Soto, was Picasso’s friend and was usually referred to as an ‘amusing wastrel’, as he enjoyed drinking and partying. Picasso met Fernández de Soto in 1899 and they twice shared studios in Barcelona.

The portrait gives an insight into the life of Picasso and his circle of friends, and Picasso immortalised Fernández de Soto in several of his paintings.
[Source: pablopicasso.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Angel Fernández de Soto1903Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Picasso, Pablo1881 – 1973, aged 91Spanish painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-17]

Private Collection70 x 53  
Kandinsky’s life took some interesting turns. He first went to Germany to study art, but when he returned to Moscow after that, he discovered his ideas were not in tune with the official Communist ideas for art, and he decided to return to Germany.

This only lasted till the Nazi regime rose up, after which Kandinsky was forced to move to France, where he spent the rest of his life.

The Blue Rider, or Der Blaue Reiter, as the title was called in German, was one of Kandinsky’s last works in impressionism, but contains grains of abstractionism.
[Source: kandinskypaintings.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Blue Rider, The1903Oil/CardLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Kandinsky, Wassily1866-1944, aged 78Russian Expressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-18]

Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin55 x 60  
Image source: tate.org.ukThis is one of the first paintings Picasso made after moving from Barcelona to Paris in 1904. The painting relates stylistically to works of his so-called ‘rose period’.

Even though this painting is predominantly blue, the warm pinkish-brown undertones in the background represent a transition towards a more colourful palette and lighter subject matter.

The young woman portrayed here is likely Madeleine, Picasso’s regular model at the time. Her depiction bears similarities to his paintings of harlequins and travelling entertainers which featured heavily in Picasso’s rose period.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Girl in a Chemise (Jeune femme en chemise)1905Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Picasso, Pablo1881 – 1973, aged 91Spanish painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-19]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK73 x 60  
Kandinsky was the influential Russian painter and art theorist, credited with painting the first purely abstract works.

He began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30. In 1896 Kandinsky settled in Munich, studying first at Anton Ažbe private school and then at the Academy of Fine Arts.

He returned to Moscow in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I. Kandinsky was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Communist Moscow, and returned to Germany in 1921.

There, he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France, where he lived for the rest of his life, becoming a French citizen in 1939 and producing some of his most prominent art. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine 1944.
[Source: avenueart.co.uk]

Image source: wassilykandinsky.net
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Interior, My Dining Room1909Oil/CanvasStill Life
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Kandinsky, Wassily1866-1944, aged 78Russian Expressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-20]

Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus,  Luisenstraße 33, 80333 München, Germany50 x 65  

Image source: all-art.org
Nude Lying on Sofa (Akt Auf Sofa Liegend) – Otto Mueller was a German painter and founding member of the Die Brücke group of German Expressionists.

The work of Die Brücke artists was characterised by vibrantly coloured figurative paintings that emphasised the primitive nature of humanity.

Mueller’s work was often more muted than his peers, using beige tones and flattened forms in depicting gypsy families and nudes in densely forested settings.
[Source: paintingmania.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Nude on a Sofa1909Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Heckel, Erich1883-1970, aged 86GermanExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-21]

State Gallery of Modern Art, Barer Str. 40, 80333 München, Germany96 x 120  
Egon Schiele’s career was short, intense, and amazingly productive. Before succumbing to influenza in 1918 at the age of twenty-eight, he created over three hundred oil paintings and several thousand works on paper.

The human figure provided Schiele with his most potent subject matter for both paintings and drawings. The self-portraits of his large series of watercolors and paintings produced between 1910 and 1918—of which this one is a prime example—are searing, psychologically complex images.
[Source: metmuseum.org]

Image source: kunst-fuer-alle.de
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait Nude1910Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Schiele, Egon1890 – 1918, aged 28Austrian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-22]

Sammlung Albertina, Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria43 x 28  

Image source: nationalgalleries.org
The majority of Jawlensky’s works are portraits and heads of women, and, in a sense, he was continuing the great tradition of Russian icon painting.

The violent colours and broad brushstrokes seen in Head of a Woman can be compared with paintings by Derain.

Jawlensky’s painting achieved maturity in 1911. He felt that his most powerful works were produced in the period up to 1914, when he was painting in strong colours with a ‘tremendous inner ecstasy’.

His later work became increasingly stylized, with the female head being reduced to a few schematic forms and lines.
[Source: nationalgalleries.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Head of a Woman (Frauenkopf)1911Oil/CrdBdPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
von Jawlensky, Alexej1864-1941, aged 77Russian painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-23]

National Galleries of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL UK52 x 50  
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or ‘The Bridge’, a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art.

He volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. His work was branded as “degenerate” by the Nazis in 1933, and in 1937 more than 600 of his works were sold or destroyed.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: kunst-fuer-alle.de
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Semi-Nude Woman with Hat1911Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig1880 – 1938 aged 57German painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-24]

Wallraf Richartz Museum, Obenmarspforten 40, 50667 Köln, Germany40 x 46  

Image source: franzmarc.com
Little Blue Horse is an abstract painting that was created by Marc in 1912.

The painting hails from Franz Marc’s ‘The New Painting’ era and at this time in his career the artist was striving to enter and portray the spirit of the horse.
This has been done in a non-western way and marked a dramatic change in the way that art was being created and thought about in Germany at that time.

The original of the Little Blue Horses painting can be viewed in the Saarland Museum.
[Source: franzmarc.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Little Blue Horse1912Oil/CanvasAnimal Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Marc, Franz1880 – 1916, aged 36German painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-25]

Saarland Museum, Bismarckstraße 11-15, 66111 Saarbrücken, Germany58 x 73  
This brooding face confronts the viewer with an immediacy and deep emotion that leave no doubt about the prophet’s spirituality. His hollow eyes, furrowed brow, sunken cheeks, and solemn countenance express his innermost feelings.

Three years before Nolde executed this print, he had experienced a religious transformation while recovering from an illness. Following this episode, he began depicting religious subjects in paintings and prints, such as the image seen here.
[Source: moma.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Prophet, The1912WdctPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Nolde, Emil1867 – 1956, aged 88German-Danish painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-26]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, 1 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA32 x 22  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Kirchner created this painting in a period of loneliness and insecurity shortly after the Brücke group disbanded in 1913.

It shows two prostitutes strolling the streets, surrounded by furtively glancing men. For Kirchner, the prostitute was a symbol of the modern city, where glamour and danger, and intimacy and alienation necessarily coexisted, and everything was for sale.

The intense, clashing colours heighten the excitement and anxiety, and the tilted horizon destabilizes the scene.
[Source: moma.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Berlin Street Scene1913Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig1880 – 1938 aged 57German painterExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-27]

Private Collection121 x 95  
Modigliani, arguably the leading figure in the expressionist movement in Paris, is world famous for his portrait art – largely inspired by African sculpture – and for his female nudes, which caused a huge scandal at the time.

Just as he was making a name for himself among collectors of modern art, he died of tuberculosis. The expressionist portraits for which he is famous were all produced in the five-year period between 1915 and the artist’s early death in January 1920.

The portrait of Juan Gris was painted during the First World War. German artists had left Paris and all French artists of military age had been conscripted. Montparnasse, the principal artists’ quarter of Paris, was populated only by a handful of artists from non-belligerent countries.
[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Juan Gris, Portrait of1915Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-28]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA55 x 38  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
The painting is one of a famous series of nudes that Modigliani painted between 1916-1918, which include many of his most famous works.

Its model was Beatrice Hastings, then the artist’s lover.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Seated Nude1916Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-29]

Courtauld Gallery, London UK36 x 24  
Modigliani and the influential Parisian art dealer Paul Guillaume became acquainted in 1914 through Max Jacob.

1914 was an important year for the artist: he had just met Beatrice Hastings, an English poet with whom he had a stormy love affair that corresponded to a highly creative phase in Modigliani’s career during which Paul Guillaume installed the painter in a Montmartre studio.

The Cubist nose, the half-open mouth, the well-groomed moustache, and the forward-jutting chin are all meticulous touches that contrast with the solid, polyhedral shape of the head and with the forehead partially concealed by his casually-worn hat.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]

Image source: musee-orangerie.fr
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Paul Guillame1916Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-30]

Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Via Palestro, 16, 20121 Milano MI, Italy105 x 75  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Amedeo Modigliani’s painting Bride and Groom goes by some other names, including The Newlyweds and The Couple.

This painting displays some of Modigliani’s most prominent characteristics. Modigliani’s body of work has many portraits of individuals and pairs of people, in this case a newly married couple.

This is supported by the gentleman’s fancy dress. While the women’s clothing cannot be seen, it can be imaged her dress would match the level of the groom’s. The elongated faces and necks of the subjects are also typical of Modigliani’s style.

Their minuscule mouths, pointed noses and empty eyes are also a common style in Modigliani’s portraits, undoubtedly inspired by his fascination with African masks and sculpture. The woman in the painting also represents Modigliani’s aesthetic ideal: dark hair and pale skin.
[Source: amedeomodigliani.net}
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Bride and Groom1916Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-31]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, 1 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA55 x 46  
Léopold Zborowski was a Polish poet, writer and art dealer. He was born in Zaleszczyki into a Jewish family.

Zborowski and his wife Anna (Hanka Zborowska) were contemporaries with Parisian artists such as Chaim Soutine, André Derain and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted Zborowski’s portraits.

Léopold Zborowski was Amedeo Modigliani’s primary art dealer and friend during the artist’s final years, organizing his expositions and letting the artist use his house as an atelier.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Léopold Zborowski, Portrait of1916Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1551-32]

Private Collection107 x 66  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
The 11th child of a Russian Jewish tailor, Chaim Soutine was rescued from poverty and abuse by a rabbi who recognized his talent and sent him to art school—first in Minsk, then in Vilna.

Soutine arrived in Paris at the age of 17 in 1911–1912 and met Modigliani in Montparnasse in about 1914. They developed a close friendship, and Modigliani painted Soutine’s portrait several times.
[Source: nga.gov]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Chaim Soutine, Portrait of1917Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Modigliani, Amedeo Clement1884 – 1920, aged 35Italian painter/sculptorExpressionism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA92 x 60  

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