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Styles & Periods

From about 1905 to 1930 a movement called Expressionism took hold of the visual arts in Germany. Expressionism drew upon artists of the Post-Impressionist period, as well as the Northern traditions of medieval sculpture and children’s folktales. Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch all contributed to the movement, departing from realistic depictions of the world, and imbuing their canvases with brutish and candid emotions. The genesis of the movement occurred when a new artists’ alliance formed in Dresden, known as Die Brücke. This short-lived, but important group, including Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, was intrigued by the arts of Africa and Oceania, and created work with raw, garish colors. The group Der Blaue Reiter formed in 1911 under the leadership of Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. These artists further pushed the limits of abstracted emotion, and based their work on music and feeling. Expressionism remained vital until World War I, when the physical and psychological damages of war caused a spiritual emptiness that melted away the fluid creativity of the Expressionists. However, the Expressionists influenced artists for generations, including Marc Chagall and the Abstract Expressionists.

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