The Expressionists: A Survey of Their Graphic Art

The Expressionists: A Survey of Their Graphic Art

The Expressionists: A Survey of Their Graphic Art

The Expressionists: A Survey of Their Graphic Art

Excerpt

Expressionism has been one of the most exciting and influential art movements of the twentieth century, yet there seems to be little agreement among critics as to what the word actually means. The word has been applied not only to the visual arts but also to music, literature, and drama. It has been used to define an attitude or point of view, a technique or style, covering at times almost the whole of modern art and at other times the work of a specific group of German artists. The very origin and authorship of the word has been the subject of considerable debate among scholars.

Expressionism, as a deliberate artistic program, was a manifestation of the Post-impressionist era. Around the beginning of the twentieth century there was a widespread reaction against the exclusive attention of the Impressionists to surface phenomena, the study of light upon form in the open air. In Paris this led to Fauvism, Cubism, and other movements which stressed the formal and architectonic elements of design for their own sake. In Germany the counter-movement took a different turn, possibly more in keeping with a Nordic tendency toward introspection. The artists were subjective rather than objective in their attitude, valuing, as it were, inspiration above classic restraint, the dithyramb above the sonnet. They stressed what Paul Fechter called "the emotional experience in its most intense and concentrated formulation." Their keynote was the exploration -- and even exploitation -- of man's inner life. Of course this exploration was a twentieth century phenomenon that reached out into many other directions, including the discovery of psychoanalysis and the subconscious, significantly a . . .

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