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The Origin of Angst

Expressionism was a modernist art movement that sought to depict emotional states beyond visible reality, immersing the self completely within the painting process. These artists distanced themselves from painting the natural world in flux, like the work of the Impressionists, which they perceived as pretty, innocuous decoration for the home and fireside. Instead, Expressionists privileged the internal emotional landscape of the individual, using vivid color, brutally reduced forms, and strange angles to created a distorted, exaggerated material world representative of our psyche. Drawing inspiration from work as early as that of El Greco, Expressionism developed from the early 1900s to 1930s, its brash and “ugly” aesthetic permeating the work of German groups Die Brücke (The Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Bringing crude forms and clashing colors to the Weimar Republic, this firmly grounded the expressionist movement into the early 20th century.

Screaming, writhing, and warping, many key Expressionist works detail states of extreme emotion at the expense of “objective” reality. These images had a fraught relationship with dominant conventions of artistic representation, including Realism and Naturalism. Alongside other movements like Cubism, Surrealism, and Dadaism, Expressionists conjured up images of the collective anxiety felt by those alienated by city life, giving a face to the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and absence of authenticity and spirituality.

TASCHEN’s books on Expressionism include a wide range of Basic Art Series titles detailing the careers of precursors and most prominent practitioners, as well as later artists directly drawing upon the Expressionist aesthetic. From painting to film, theater to literature, and architecture to dance, these artists left no discipline untouched in their quest to depict the emotional and physical aftermath of war and social upheaval.


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July 21, 2017 - June 30, 2018

Von Monet bis Kandinsky. Visions Alive

Alte Münze, Berlin
February 14 - June 10, 2018

Emil Nolde

National Gallery, Dublin
February 23 - November 04, 2018

Egon Schiele. The anniversary show

Leopold Museum, Vienna
May 24 - September 23, 2018

Life in motion: Egon Schiele

Tate Liverpool
July 03 - October 07, 2018

Obsession – Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso

The Met Breuer, New York
July 14 - October 21, 2018

Emil Nolde. Colour is our Life

National Gallery Scotland, Edinburgh
October 03 - January 14, 2018

Egon Schiele

Fondation Louis Vuitton
October 14, 2018 - January 06, 2019

Egon Schiele: Freiheit des Ichs

Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt
October 19, 2018 - February 17, 2019

Egon Schiele - Ways of a collection

Orangery (Lower Belvedere), Vienna
October 31, 2018

100th anniversary of Egon Schiele’s Death

November 04, 2018 - February 03, 2019

Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna

Royal Academy, London
November 16, 2018 - February 17, 2019

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Erträumte Reisen

Bundeskunsthalle Bonn