Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Those of us who bemoan the fact that painting in the first quarter of the twenty-first century is no longer on the cutting edge of art might wax nostalgic for the first quarter of the twentieth century when painting was nothing if not reactionary. Just as Impressionism in the nineteenth century had been a reaction to the French Academy and state-sponsored classicism, there sprung any number of styles and movements in the upheaving first twenty-five years of the twentieth century in reaction to Impressionism.

The Germans seemed to be the most discontent. In addition to Dada, there came Expressionism (not to be confused with Abstract Expressionism which was largely an American phenomena). Expressionism as a style was, itself, split into at least three different movements, and that was just in Germany. In German Expressionism there was Die Brucke (The Bridge), Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), and finally Neue Sachlichkeit (The New Objectivity). In France, they were called the Fauves (wild beasts).Though very different in form, they all tried to communicate the inner feelings of the artist through paint.
On White II, 1923, Kandinsky

Artists involved in these various German movements include Emil Nolde, Wassily Kandinsky, and Max Beckmann, while in France the Fauves worshipped Van Gogh and Gauguin through the work of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. In the meantime, also in France, Picasso and Braque were drawing inspiration from Cezanne in their expressionistic exploration of Cubism. All these styles, movements, and sub-movements were like a powder keg just waiting to explode.  That is almost literally what happened when the political powder keg that was Edwardian Europe did explode into the horrendous cataclysm of World War I with its dispersing effect upon the European art world.

No comments:

Post a Comment