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What are Expressionists?

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Cliffs Of Green River, 1879
Cliffs Of Green River, 1879
Cliffs Of Green River, 1879
Cliffs Of Green River, 1879
Cliffs Of Green River, 1879
Cliffs Of Green River, 1879

One who sees the world and then captures it using spirituality and emotion is considered an expressionist.  This style of art work dates back to the early twentieth century and is a beloved genre within the artist culture and those who admire it.

An expressionist works with things that we all know to be true about the world, and then presents it through paintings and drawings with his or her own subjective insight giving it a very emotionally charged view based on his or her own perception of that particular reality.  An example would be for two people to look at the same object or situation and then describe it freely using whatever it is that they feel to be as much a factor in the description as what they are actually seeing.  Because each person brings something different along with them that they have developed over their specific lifetime and exposure to whatever environments and cultures they may have encountered, the interpretation of the situation or object can sometimes greatly differ between the two viewers.  This is exactly what an expressionist does when offering their artwork. 

An expressionist uses their own spirituality and emotion to put onto canvas through light, texture, and colors, those things that we can see and those abstract things that are not able to be seen with the naked eye such as love, hate, sorrow, taste, sound, and smell.  By using the senses and emotions as a vehicle to deliver a message that is taken in through vision, they are creating art that goes to another level beyond what is physically possible and what is considered reality.

While we most often hear of this style in the art world, expressionist(s) also write literature and are involved in making films.  They are architects and musicians as well.  Another area where they exist would be in dance. 

This type of artwork takes what we know to be true and then distorts it through their very individual, distinctive, and subjective view in order to provoke a response from the viewer.  Sometimes this is left to the viewer to take in and then interpret, and sometimes the artist will lead the viewer somewhat by naming a piece with a suggestive title to indicate the emphasis that they were intending.

There have been and are many artists who fall into this category but none more famous and Vincent Van Gogh who was a Dutch painter.  His works play with light and color exaggeration in a way that brings an entirely new realm to the subject matter that he was painting.  While people realize that they are looking at a portrait or a landscape, the colors are very vibrant and not within the reality of that particular scene.  This is what he saw when he looked out at the country side combined with what he was feeling at the moment he was viewing it.  This is what this genre of art is all about; being able to tell the viewer a story about what something makes them feel as much as what they are seeing. 

 


Back to main topic: Impressionists
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Impressionist Artwork
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