Archive for the ‘Expressionism’ Category

The Influence of Jackson Pollock

Monday, July 27th, 2009

One of the major players in the Abstract Expressionism movement in the United States, Jackson Pollock produced some of the most recognizable pieces related to this style.  He specialized in the use of liquid paints instead of the more traditional artist’s paints used on a canvas.  Pollock felt a strong draw to the form of paint pouring, creating his work by stretching a canvas out on the floor and dripping or pouring paint onto the canvas from above.  He would use hardened brushes and sticks to make touches on his canvas and due to his unconventional way of creating his art, Pollock’s paintings were considered by many to bring a new layer to the world of art for, as an artist, he could view his painting from multiple directions and be able to create in ways that a traditional, upright canvas would not allow.

One thing that Pollock did toward advancing the Abstract Expressionistic movement was when he started to refuse to name his pieces, giving a number as a name instead.  This, he felt, would stop the viewer from trying to find dramatic symbolism in the title and would instead make them focus on the painting itself and what it did for them.  This approach, to his art and his life, vaults him into the pantheon of great American artists.

The Genius of Edvard Munch

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Perhaps one of the most striking Expressionist painters in all of history, Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter who lived from 1863 to 1944.  He began painting in 1880 after leaving engineering school and in 1881, he enrolled in the Royal School of Art and Design of Kristiania.  While he studied under the influence of Post-Impressionists, Munch felt that the style wasn’t very representative of his reasons for painting.  Instead, he focused more on creating situations within his paintings which were filled with emotional content and expressive imagery.

His most famous painting, The Scream, was painted in 1893.  It is a good representation of his classic style of work, which focuses more on a shallow backdrop which is a minimal space for his frontal figures to grab attention.  Munch wanted to produce convincing images depicting states of mind and psychological conditions.  The characters in his works of art often embody a certain psychological condition, appearing more symbolic than realistic.

In the late 1930s, the Nazi occupation of Germany declared much of Munch’s work to be degenerate and they removed it from German museums.  This offended Munch deeply, as he felt that he had close ties to Germany throughout his youth.  He retired to Oslo and spend the rest of his life there, producing art up to his death in 1944.

German Expressionism

Monday, April 6th, 2009


Perhaps being the birthplace of the more expansive Expressionist art movement, Germany was the early parent to a type of art form which placed a higher emphasis on the emotions and philosophical implications behind a work of art than on the reality it was trying to recreate.  Germany played a large role in the early 20th Century in challenging the academic traditions which had been put forth regarding art.  Expressionist movement and German Expressionists especially were heavily interested in producing art which expressed communication through a use of intense emotion.  Bold colors and two-dimensional distorted forms are a general trademark of Expressionist work which was born in Germany.

Franz Marc was one of the leading German Expressionist artists.  His work would often display animals in natural settings but through his use of bright primary colors and outstanding simplicity, his work would often produce a strong sense of emotion which German Expressionism is known for.  Erich Heckel was another strong example of a German Expressionist, one who sought to build a bridge between the traditional neo-romantic German art and the new German Expressionist works.  He, along with artists Fritz Bleyl, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, formed the group Die Brucke, helping to provide a major impact on the world of art and helping Expressionism to take its roots around the world.

Jackson Pollock’s No. 5

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Jackson Pollock is considered by many to be one of the leading artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement.  His work could often be considered representative of the entire movement, as it symbolizes the desire to capture the emotional and expressive sides of the artist’s thoughts on a subject rather than a representation of the reality of the event.  Pollock’s use of action painting, made by spontaneous flinging, dribbling, or smearing of paint onto a canvas, helps to capture more of the act of painting itself rather than what the paint is meant to represent.  However, one of Pollock’s paintings seems to stand out more than the others.  Arguably the most famous and, to date, the most expensive painting ever sold in the world, No. 5, 1948 can be seen as a defining example of Abstract Expression.

The painting was made on an 8 foot by 4 foot piece of fiberboard and has thick amounts of brown and yellow paint drizzled onto it.  The layout of the painting gives it a very nest-like appearance, inspiring different emotions in those viewing it.  Generally, though, this is the most well received of Pollock’s work and this painting can usually be identified as a work of Abstract Expressionism.

Edvard Munch – The Scream

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Edvar Munch - The Scream

One of the most famous paintings known to the world is Edvard Munch’s The Scream.  This work of art was first created by Munch in 1893 and was first titled, “The Scream of Nature.”  Munch went on to recreate a series of this painting however, using different materials over the next 17 years.  In 1895, Munch recreated the painting in lithograph before repainting it again in 1910 with oil and pastels.  The work has since found a place in our culture, becoming almost as recognizable to the common person as, perhaps, the Mona Lisa or Starry Night.

The painting is popular because of it’s stark, almost disturbing figure which is standing in the middle of a road, hands clapped to its face, screaming.  The sky is a deep red and a body of water is in the background.  Munch recorded an incident in his diary in which he was walking with two friends down a path and, as the sun was setting, the sky suddenly turned a blood red and Munch suddenly felt a deep exhaustion, as if he could feel “an infinite scream passing through Nature.”  This feeling, captured so acutely, became the painting which is now known as The Scream.  This painting helped to usher in works of art which have more Expressionistic backgrounds, capturing the feeling of the moment instead of the sights.

Expressionistic Styles – Differences and Similarities

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Expressionism - Evening on Karl Johan Street by Edvard MunchExpressionism is an intensely popular art form which lasted the span of the 20th Century.  Its roots began in Germany in the very early 1900s, born out of the desire to place more emphasis on the emotions and feelings that a piece of art can produce in the viewer over an attempt to recreate a reality on the canvas.  German Expressionism gave way into Expressionism around the world, which eventually took root in New York City after World War II with the dawning of Abstract Expressionism.  All three forms use bright primary colors to evoke emotion and all will usually depict simple shapes and dissolved, unclear forms of images that will better capture the emotional angst which is felt about the issue rather than a clear definition of what the issue actually is.

Abstract Expressionism, unlike the earlier German Expressionism, places a large emphasis on the use of action paintings, which capture the artist’s mood and feelings at the time of painting rather than painstakingly making a portrait of an idea.  These paintings are often loud and vibrant and grab the viewer, much as the famous No. 5 by Pollock.  At any rate, these Expressionist paintings seek to take the viewer on an emotional journey by experiencing them, rather than merely inspiring an admiration for the technical skill that goes into creating the art.

Abstract Expressionism - Jackson Pollock - Blue Poles-11

Expressionism Art

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Expressionism - Max Beckmann\'s Self Portrait with horn

Considered by many to be one of the strongest art forms due to its emotionally gripping depictions, Expressionism is a mainly 20th Century form of expression.  Painting is used within this art form in a manner of distorting reality to produce a strong emotional effect.    Some of the hallmarks of an expressionist style are the use of intense, vivid colors, disjointed use of space, and very agitated brush strokes.  These are employed to help the artist show the subjective emotions and responses that the artist feels about a particular reality, and to hopefully trigger some in the person looking at the painting.

The Expressionist style was born in the early 1900s and, to a degree, can still be discovered being practiced today.  It had some of its earliest roots in Germany around 1910, being first termed as “Expressionism” by Herwald Walden in 1912.  The famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a great enabler of Expressionism by pointing out elements in art forms in the past and allowing the Expressionist artists to embrace some of the more elusive elements by defining them.

Some of the most well known Expressionist artists can still be found with great popularity today.  Edvard Munch, the artist of the famous “The Scream” painting is one of the most popular, along with such names as Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  Expressionism is an art form which allows many people to feel the deep connections that art brings and all are encouraged to explore it more deeply.

Abstract Expressionism

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Jane Frank Crags and Crevices - Abstract Expressionism

Born out of the Expressionist movement, Abstract Expressionism was considered to be a specifically American, post-World War II artistic movement.  It was the first American art movement which gained a worldwide significance and it transformed New York City into the art capital of the world, taking the title from Paris.  This art movement is derived from the emotional intensity of the traditional Expressionists while drawing from the anti-figurative ideals of abstract schools like Futurism and Cubism.  The movement is felt by many to be rebellious and anarchic; even nihilistic.  Owing to this fact, many critics of Abstract Expressionism have been absolutely polarized.  Some critics treat the art form as not worth their time while others feel that it has been a great contribution to the art world, the epitome of aesthetic value.

Perhaps one of the most famous Abstract Expressionist painters was Jackson Pollock.  His paintings, including the famous No. 5, are recognized all over the world.  Other famous artists include Jane Frank, Franz Kline, and Barnett Newman.  All of these artists have made great contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement, helping to expand the visual and the philosophical implications that the art form presents.  It believes that any work of art which challenges the viewer is a strong piece and Abstract Expressionists seek to do this in every work they display.

Emotions in Expressionism

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Munch - The Art of LifeHumanity is defined by its ability to perceive, feel, create and respond. Without these abilities we would not be considered humans. We understand, and analyze information and then respond to what we see.

Because most art forms are visual, it creates responses within society that either inspire an emotion or provoke a change. So in essence we are changed by what we see, and this is how a good artist can provoke emotions within us, by creating something that will inspire us to change, to feel, or to aspire to something greater than ourselves.

Art which is created to transmit a feeling or a point of view can change the way we see our life and those that surround us. Art no matter what its form, whether it be visual, musical or dramatically inspires our memories.

Artists themselves are inspired by everyday events, sights, or images and because of their abilities can transmit these feelings to others through their art, and in this profoundly affect all of us as a society. Art teaches us to appreciate beauty or to question our values! As Edward de Bono put it so well, “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”


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