Expressionism Explained

A brief introduction to one of the most important art movements ever
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889


The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch was one. So too were Egon Schiele, Paul Klee and Chaim Soutine. And let's not forget Vincent van Gogh, the legendary Dutch painter who famously cut off part of his ear.

What does this list of great artists have in common? Well, they're all Expressionists, which means they chose to represent internal thoughts and feelings through their paintings rather than objects in the external world. In other words, they used paint to express emotion – anger, anxiety, love – rather than physical reality.

The Scream, Edvard Munch, between 1893 and 1910

The Scream, Edvard Munch, between 1893 and 1910

Expressionism concentrated mainly in Germany, and was a prevalent artistic force from 1905 to 1930. The movement's most famous paintings, which include Munch's The Scream, Schiele's Seated Woman with Bent Knee and Van Gogh's The Starry Night, are intense, passionate and highly personal artworks, based on the concept of the painter's canvas as a vehicle for demonstrating their innermost feelings.

Why don't you have a go at painting a feeling, like these great Expressionists did?


The Art Book: New Edition

Presenting a whole new way of looking at art. Easy to use, informative and fun, it’s an A-to-Z guide to the greatest painters, photographers and sculptors from medieval times to the present day.


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