Hubbard, Guy, Arts & Activities
THINGS TO LEARN
* Expressionism was one of a number of art movements that began in the early 20th century. It appeared because artists rejected the fixed ideas of Classical art (inherited from Greece and Rome), which no longer seemed to fit the kind of world that was unfolding. The roots of Expressionism belong to the other great artistic tradition, Romanticism, with its emphasis on strong emotions. Expressionist artists were not trying to reproduce what they could see but were trying to make their feelings visible.
* The first modern Expressionist artists began working at the beginning of the 20th century, and came mainly from Northern Europe. Some of their ideas were taken partly from the new study of human emotions described by the Austrian pyschologist, Sigmund Freud. They were also influenced by the traditions of their northern homelands, where art often emphasized gloomy subjects and distorted figures.
* Several important European Expressionist artists were Edvard Munch (Norway), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Germany), Wassily Kandinsky (Russia), James Ensor (Belgium), Paul Klee (Switzerland), Oskar Kokoschka (Austria), and Max Beckmann (Germany).
* Some of the great artists of the past whose ideas influenced modern Expressionist painters were Mathis Grunewald (1470-1528), Hieronymus Bosch (1488-1515), Jan Brueghel (1568-1625) and Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). A more recent artist who was very influential was Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). A group of French and Dutch artists working in France, whose brightly colored pictures were referred to as Fauvism (the work of "wild beasts"), were working a few years before Expressionism began and were also influential.
* Expressionism reached the United States just before World War I, but did not become well known until after the war was over. Many young North American artists had studied in Europe before the war and several of them became Expressionists. Among the better-known Americans are John Burchfield, John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, together with Canadians Emily Carr and Loren Harris.
The work of each of these artists was very individual, but their work was also different from Expressionist art created by Europeans, perhaps because Canadians and Americans did not have the same kinds of histories as people living in Europe.
* Expressionist art usually includes recognizable objects, although most of it is quite abstract. Color is usually important (although not in this painting) but correct perspective is not. While each artist has his or her own individual style, with practice students will find that Expressionist art is fairly easy to identify.
THINGS TO DO
* In order for students to develop a clear understanding of Expressionism, they need to become familiar with as many examples as possible. The first goal is to know what Expressionist art looks like. While all these artists share similar ideas and their pictures have numbers of similarities, each artist's style is very different. A second goal is to see enough Expressionist art that students can identify the individual styles of the better-known artists.
* John Marin's pictures were almost all painted outdoors with the scenes he liked right in front of him. …