What is Expressionism?
What do we mean when we say “Expressionism”? While Impressionism and the works of Impressionist artists like Monet and Renoir sought to depict light, motion, and color as accurately as they could in a two-dimensional medium, Expressionism is a lot less concerned about reality.
Instead, Expressionism puts the personal and emotional at the forefront of art, with subject matter and accuracy as the last of its worries. In fact, the term “Expressionism” was coined by Czech historian Antonin Matějček in 1910 to specifically mean the “opposite” of Impressionism.
Granted, it would be incredibly difficult to find a work of art that lacks any emotion. An artist’s desire to create comes from their emotions, both positive and negative.
However, Expressionist artists bring those emotions into their depictions, elevating their emotional interpretations over any sense of trying to convey the objective “truth” of their subjects. By pushing back at centuries of artistic tradition, Expressionism changed the entire landscape of modern art and inspired numerous 21st-century artists to let their emotions take the reins.