Expressionism is when we stop abiding by rationality and just go by gut, we mess with the normal. It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.


An example of expressionism in art is the work of Edvard Munch:


This painting called scream is possibly the most famous example of expressionism, the colours all merge together and further express the scream that Munch is trying to portray. The brush strokes reveal the state of mind that is to be shown, agitated.

German expressionists are another example of expressionism:

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German expressionism looks like woodcuts, it has an African aesthetic.

Abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock take the ‘from your gut’ extremely literally, these are a few examples of his work:

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As you can see it is very difficult to pick out exactly what Pollock is trying to suggest in these paintings or even what the paintings are of. Despite this I really like the look of paintings like this because I think they look modern and interesting although I do think even I could create something similar to these.


An example of expressionist cinema is german expressionist, here the majority of the films are black and white, they use strange warped background in order to make the films seem surreal. At the time of german expressionism Germany had just come out of World War One, they felt disillusioned by the world around them , hence effecting the warped effect on the films. A lot of the authority figures in these films were villains as many Germans felt that they couldn’t trust the government. There was even the persecution shown to minority religious groups that was shown throughout some of the films. German expressionist films highlight many of the real issues occurring at the time whilst using an element of fantasy which allowed the director freedom to highlight the issues they felt were most important at that time.

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Many expressionist authors use the ‘Stream of Consciousness’ approach, where by they write down all the thoughts and feelings that cross their minds, this type of literature is associated with drug fuelled hippies. Examples of these are beat poets, at the end of World War Two people began to question mainstream politics and culture, they wanted to defy conventional writing, social conformity and literary tradition, in order to achieve a higher level of consciousness they used hallucinogenic drugs, they also meditated and followed Eastern religion. Possibly the best way to sum up the Beat movement was the book by Allen Ginsberg called ‘Howl and other poems’.


I think most of us have heard of expressive dance even if it was just someone making an excuse for their unorthodox set of moves, expressive dance is freestyle, improvisation often it looks like the dancer is simply doing what they feel compelled to do inside.



At the Bauhaus they took a slightly different view of expressive dance and used the colour and sound theory they had learnt from a tutor, they put together the certain sounds, shapes and colours that the majority of people thought went well together and from this they produced the Triadic Ballet. Below is a film of the Triadic Ballet:


As you can imagine it is difficult to make an expressionist building as expressionism is all about being impulsive and how can you be impulsive with something that takes years to create…you end up tweaking it instead of going with your gut. The courbusier chapel attempts expressionism, here you can see it is a free flowing building with lots of curves, the windows are oddly placed almost as if  it was spontaneous and not quite thought through.



Soviet architecture also tended to be quite expressive, there is no clear tradition between each building, they all seem to have completely different themes to them:

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Expressionist photography nowadays tends to be more about how you mess with the photograph after it’s been taken, rather than taking a photo that is expressive. Photographers can do this by changing the negatives or by Photoshopping an image.

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Rankin carried out a project called ‘destroy’ it was an expressive project in which he teamed up with a children’s music charity, as it was the charities 10th birthday Ranking decided to get in touch with 70 musicians and asked them to destroy photos of themselves that had been taken by an iconic photographer, here are some of the outcomes:

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Graphic Design

Expressionism in graphic design is more about showing emotions or reactions to a subject of event through visual communication. An example of this is the Sex Pistols, they expressed their views on anarchy through defacing a picture of the queen :



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