The German Expressionist movement was initially confined to Germany due to the isolation the country experienced during World War I. In 1916, the government had banned foreign films. The demand from theaters to generate films led to an increase in domestic film production from 24 films in 1914 to 130 films in 1918.
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.
- Predominantly Germany, but also in Austria, France, and Russia
- American Figurative Expressionism, generally, and Boston Expressionism, in particular
The term Brick Expressionism ( German: Backsteinexpressionismus) describes a specific variant of Expressionist architecture that uses bricks, tiles or clinker bricks as the main visible building material. Buildings in the style were erected mostly in the 1920s, primarily in Germany and the Netherlands, where the style was created.
- Distorted Imagery
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Among the first Expressionist films, The Student of Prague (1913), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), From Morn to Midnight (1920), The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920), Destiny (1921), Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), and Schatten(1923) were highly symbolic and stylized. The German Expressionist movement was initially confined to Germany due to the isolation the country experienced during World War I. In 1916, the government had banned foreign films. The demand from theaters to generate films led to an increase in domestic film production from 24 films in 1914 to 130 films in 1918. With inflation also on the rise, Germans were attending films more freely because they knew that their money's value was constantly diminishing. Besides the films' popularity within Germany, by 1922 the international audience had begun to appreciate German cinema, in part due to a decreasing anti-German sentiment following t...
Many critics see a direct tie between cinema and architecture of the time, stating that the sets and scene artwork of Expressionist films often reveal buildings of sharp angles, great heights, and crowded environments, such as the frequently shown Tower of Babel in Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Strong elements of monumentalism and Modernism appear throughout the canon of German Expressionism. An excellent example of this is Metropolis, as evidenced by the enormous power plant and glimpses of the massive yet pristine "upper" city. German Expressionist painters rejected the naturalisticdepiction of objective reality, often portraying distorted figures, buildings, and landscapes in a disorienting manner that disregarded the conventions of perspective and proportion. This approach, combined with jagged, stylized shapes and harsh, unnatural colors, were used to convey subjective emotions. A number of ar...
The two most comprehensive studies of German Expressionist film are Lotte Eisner's The Haunted Screen and Siegfried Kracauer's From Caligari to Hitler. Kracauer examines German cinema from the Silent/Golden Era to support the (controversial) conclusion that German films made prior to Hitler's takeover and the rise of the Third Reich all hint at the inevitability of Nazi Germany. For Eisner, similarly, German Expressionist cinema is a visual manifestation of Romantic ideals turned to dark and proto-totalitarian ends. More recent German Expressionist scholars examine historical elements influencing German Expressionism, such as the Weimar economy, UFA, Erich Pommer, Nordisk, and Hollywood.
For examples of highly acclaimed and, in some cases, little seen film made in the German Expressionist style, see the: 1. Austrian film director G.W. Pabst's 1930 film Westfront 1918 2. Polish-made 1937 Yiddish-language The Dybbuk (film)and 3. American thriller The Night of the Hunter (film), made in 1955 For more on German Expressionism's most singularly important producer and director, see Leopold Jessner (1878-1945). For more on the period's most important production company and distributor, see Universum Film AG, popularly known as UFA.
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Franz Moritz Wilhelm Marc (8 February 1880 – 4 March 1916) was a German painter and printmaker, one of the key figures of German Expressionism.He was a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a journal whose name later became synonymous with the circle of artists collaborating in it.
- Origin of The Term
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While the word expressionist was used in the modern sense as early as 1850, its origin is sometimes traced to paintings exhibited in 1901 in Paris by obscure artist Julien-Auguste Hervé, which he called Expressionismes. An alternative view is that the term was coined by the Czech art historian Antonin Matějček in 1910 as the opposite of impressionism: "An Expressionist wishes, above all, to express himself... (an Expressionist rejects) immediate perception and builds on more complex psychicstructures... Impressions and mental images that pass through ... people's soul as through a filter which rids them of all substantial accretions to produce their clear essence [...and] are assimilated and condense into more general forms, into types, which he transcribes through simple short-hand formulae and symbols." Important precursors of Expressionism were the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), espec...
Some of the style's main visual artists of the early 20th century were: 1. Armenia: Martiros Saryan 2. Australia: Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, John Perceval, Albert Tucker, and Joy Hester 3. Austria: Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Josef Gassler and Alfred Kubin 4. Belgium: Marcel Caron, Anto Carte, Auguste Mambour, - Flemish Expressionism: Constant Permeke, Gustave De Smet, Frits Van den Berghe, James Ensor, Albert Servaes, Floris Jespers and Gustave Van de Woestijne. 5. Brazil: Anita Malfatti, Cândido Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Iberê Camargo and Lasar Segall. 6. Denmark: Einer Johansen 7. Estonia: Konrad Mägi, Eduard Wiiralt, Kuno Veeber 8. Finland: Tyko Sallinen, Alvar Cawén, and Wäinö Aaltonen. 9. France: Frédéric Fiebig, Georges Rouault, Georges Gimel, Gen Paul, Chaim Soutine, Marie-Thérèse Auffray and Bernard Buffet. 10. Germany: Ernst Barlach, Max Beckmann, Fritz Bleyl, Heinrich Campendonk, Otto Dix, Conrad Felixmüller, George Grosz, Erich Heckel, Carl Hofer, Ernst Ludwig...
The style originated principally in Germany and Austria. There were a number of groups of expressionist painters, including Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke. Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider, named for a painting) was based in Munich and Die Brücke was originally based in Dresden (although some members later relocated to Berlin). Die Brücke was active for a longer period than Der Blaue Reiter, which was only together for a year (1912). The Expressionists were influenced by various artists and sources including Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and African art. They were also aware of the work being done by the Fauves in Paris, who influenced Expressionism's tendency toward arbitrary colours and jarring compositions. In reaction and opposition to French Impressionism, which emphasized the rendering of the visual appearance of objects, Expressionist artists sought to portray emotions and subjective interpretati...
The Expressionist movement included other types of culture, including dance, sculpture, cinema and theatre.Antonín Matějček cited in Gordon, Donald E. (1987). Expressionism: Art and Idea, p. 175. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300033106Jonah F. Mitchell (Berlin, 2003). Doctoral thesis Expressionism between Western modernism and Teutonic Sonderweg.Courtesy of the author.Friedrich Nietzsche (1872). The Birth of Tragedy Out of The Spirit of Music. Trans. Clifton P. Fadiman. New York: Dover, 1995. ISBN 0-486-28515-4.Judith Bookbinder, Boston modern: figurative expressionism as alternative modernism, (Durham, N.H.: University of New Hampshire Press; Hanover: University Press of New England, ©2005.) ISBN 1-58465...
- Critical Reception
- Neo-Expressionist Artists Around The World
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Neo-expressionism dominated the art market until the mid-1980s. The style emerged internationally and was viewed by many critics, such as Achille Bonito Oliva and Donald Kuspit, as a revival of traditional themes of self-expression in European art after decades of American dominance. The social and economic value of the movement was hotly debated. From the point of view of the history of Modern Art, art critic Robert Hughes dismissed Neo-Expressionist painting as retrograde, as a failure of radical imagination, and as a lamentable capitulation to the art market. Critics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Craig Owens, and Mira Schor were highly critical of its relation to the marketability of painting on the rapidly expanding art market, celebrity, the backlash against feminism, anti-intellectualism, and a return to mythic subjects and individualist methods they deemed outmoded. Women were notoriously marginalized in the movement, and painters such as Elizabeth Murray and Maria La...
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Käthe Kollwitz (German pronunciation: [kɛːtə kɔlvɪt͡s]; born as Schmidt; 8 July 1867 – 22 April 1945) was a German artist who worked with painting, printmaking (including etching, lithography and woodcuts) and sculpture.
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Among the first Expressionist films, The Student of Prague (1913), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920), Destiny (1921), Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), Schatten (1923), and The Last Laugh(1924), were highly symbolic and stylized. The German Expressionist movement was largely confined to Germany due to the isolation the country experienced during World War I. In 1916, the government had banned more foreign films in the nation. The demand from theaters to generate films led film production to rise from 25 films (1914) to 130 films (1918). With inflation literally on the rise, Germans were attending films more freely because they knew that their money's worth was constantly diminishing. Besides the films' popularity within Germany, by 1922 the international audience had begun to appreciate German cinema, in part due to a decreasing anti-German sentiment following the end of World War I. By the time the 1916 ban on imports was l...
Two works about the era are Lotte Eisner's The Haunted Screen and Sigfried Kracauer's From Caligari to Hitler. . Kracauer examines German cinema from the Silent/Golden Era and eventually concludes that German films made prior to Hitler's takeover and the rise of the Third Reich all hint at the inevitability of Nazi Germany. For Eisner, German Expressionist cinema is a visual manifestation of Romantic ideals. She closely examines staging, cinematography, acting, scenarios, and other cinematic elements in films by Pabst, Lubitsch, Lang (her obvious favorite), Riefenstahl, Harbou, and Murnau. More recent German Expressionist scholars examine historical elements of German Expressionism, such as inflation/economics, UFA, Erich Pommer, Nordisk, and Hollywood.
German silent cinema was arguably far ahead of cinema in Hollywood.As well as the direct influence of film makers who moved from Germany to Hollywood, developments in style and technique which were developed through Expressionism in Germany impressed contemporary film makers from elsewhere and were incorporated into their work and so into the body of international cinema from the 1930s onward. A good example of this process can be found in the career of the British director Alfred Hitchcock. In 1924, Hitchcock was sent by his film company Gainsborough Pictures to work as an assistant director and art director at the UFA Babelsberg Studios in Berlin on the film The Blackguard. An immediate effect of the working environment there can be seen in his expressionistic set designs for The Blackguard. The influence can also be seen throughout the rest of Hitchcock's career. In his third film, The Lodger, Expressionism's influence extends to set designs, lighting techniques, and trick...
Many critics see a direct tie between cinema and architecture of the time, stating that the sets and scene artwork of expressionist films often reveal buildings of sharp angles, great heights, and crowded environments, such as the frequently shown Tower of Babel in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Strong elements of monumentalism and modernism appear throughout the canon of German expressionism. An excellent example on this is Metropolis, as evidenced by the enormous power plant and glimpses of the massive yet pristine 'upper' city. Expressionist paintings avoided the use of subtle shadings and colors. They often used large shapes of bright, unrealistic colors with dark,and they were often cartoon-like. Buildings might sag or lean, showing the ground tilted up steeply as a symbol of defiance of tradition. German expressionist films produced in the Weimar Republicimmediately following the First World War not only encapsulate the sociopolitical contexts in which they were...