In the early years of the expressionism (before world war II), the artists built on the
ideas of the Post-Impressionism. They went
on with the same experiments and the thoughts and the ideas given by the work were
more important than the realistic interpretation of the visible reality. The artists were still searching for a new and more
intense truth behind the painting. Therefor the artists kept on looking at and reflecting the same things over and over again,
but every time in a different way.
In 1911, the term 'Expressionism' was used for art for the first time. In the beginning the term was used only for the German artists who painted art belonging to this movement from 1905 on. Later other artist were count to this movement as well.
The word 'expression' tells us enough. The artists tried to express their feelings and interpretations. Characteristic for the Expressionism is the way in which the artist tried to express those feelings and interpretations. They did not create scenes reflecting their feelings and interpretations. They did reflect them by the use of forms and colors, often not having any relation to the visible reality at all.
The expression of a feeling becomes obvious in the paintings of Edvard Munch. Munch could have had anxiety-attacks which he expressed in his work. By the use of the color and the form he emphasized his feeling of fear. Therefor he had to let go of the visible reality. His work also belongs to the Symbolism.
The global characteristics of the Expressionism are: the use of 'screaming' colors (often dark and primary colors), the amply use of paint and other materials and the use of simplified forms.
Within the Expressionism, many art-groups can be distinguished. These groups have either all the characteristics of the Expressionism or just a few of them. Some of the most important of these groups are mentioned in the footer below.