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The Origin of Angst

Expressionism was a modernist art movement that sought to represent the way subjective experience feels rather than how it looks. In this sense the artists involved distanced themselves from Impressionism’s goal to paint images of the natural world constantly in flux. Instead, with vivid color, textured form, and strange angles, the Expressionists privileged the internal emotional landscape of the individual. Expressionism has early antecedents, for example in the work of El Greco. The classic period of the movement however lasted from the early 1900s to 1930s, although work in the Expressionist style continued afterwards. In particular the German groups of the Weimar Republic era, Die Brücke (The Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), ground the movement in the early twentieth century.

Screaming, writhing, and warping, many key Expressionist works detail states of extreme emotion at the expense of ‘objective’ reality. Expressionist artworks have a fraught relationship to Realism and Naturalism and the dominant conventions of representation. Along with other artistic groups, like Cubism, Surrealism, and Dadaism, Expressionist artists conjured a collective anxiety felt about the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and the absence of authenticity and spirituality. Many works depict the individual alienated by life in the city. Expressionist works have a knack for appearing as precursors to, during, and in the aftermath of times of social upheaval and war. Artists worked across painting, film, theatre, literature, architecture, and dance.

TASCHEN’s books on Expressionism include a wide range of Basic Art Series titles detailing the careers of prominent artists like Max Beckmann, Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, Caspar David Friedrich, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Le Corbusier, Franz Marc, Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud. Taking its place in the cannon of Art History, Expressionism came to define the agonies and grotesque nature of life in the modern world.


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October 31, 2018

100th anniversary of Egon Schiele’s Death

January 23 - May 28, 2017

Klassiker der Moderne

Museum Barberini, Potsdam
June 17 - October 03, 2017

Von Hopper bis Rothko. Amerikas Weg in die Moderne

Museum Barberini, Potsdam
February 22 - June 18, 2017

Egon Schiele

Albertina, Vienna

100 Years of Bauhaus


100 Years Russian Revolution