Reply To: Expressionism

  • Encyclios

    April 25, 2023 at 8:08 AM

    The precursors

    The Norwegian Edvard Munch, the Dutch Vincent van Gogh, the Belgian James Ensor, to which we can add the French Toulouse-Lautrec, contributed to the formation of the temperament of the years at the turn of the century.

    Ensor was the earliest, executing in 1888 Christ’s Entrance into Brussels (Malibu J. P. Getty Museum), a violent satire with vivid color, whose resonance, however, was limited.
    Vincent van Gogh’s work was more widely circulated and provided a broader theoretical basis, giving color a symbolic and expressive power that was as yet unseen (Wheat Field with Crows, 1890: Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum).

    Munch perfectly highlights the close relationship that existed at the beginning between symbolism and expressionism (like Hodler in Switzerland and Klimt in Austria), and The Cry (1893; Oslo, Nasjonalgalleriet), which is a true manifesto, owes its effectiveness not less to the graphic stylizations of the Jugendstil than to the new conception of form and color.

    The idea of considering Lautrec a forerunner of Expressionism may come as a surprise, but some of his themes, his taste for ellipsis, and the clash of his palette make him, in many ways, a spiritual brother of the Germans (Tattooed Woman, 1894; Bern, private collection).

    What brings these artists together is, on the one hand, the importance of lived experience, the painful insertion into society, and on the other, from a technical point of view, the primacy given to color.