Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Beard, Dorathea K.

Legacy Department

School of Art


German Expressionism is a much more complex and involved movement than it is often considered to be. The movement is often defined in terms of a few typical and concise characteristics. This approach undermines the dynamic and changing nature of the movement as a whole. Characteristics which typically function to define German Expressionism are subjectivity, rebelliousness, expressiveness, and wild distortions. While such characteristics undoubtably reveal certain aspects of the art of the German Expressionists, they cannot alone wholly define the movement. In order to define the movement, one needs to pay particular attention to the historical, political, and social environment of the time. In doing so, we can go beneath the stylistic developments and try to define what caused such subj ecti vi ty, rebelliousness, expressiveness, etc. in so many different artists of this time in Germany. In addition to expanding the definition of German Expressionist art, we also need to be aware of all of the art of the movement. It is extremely typical for scholars to ignore the later part of the movement since the movement was the most coherent before and around the time of the First World War, from about 1905 to 1914. In this paper, I discuss primarily two works of German Expressionist art currently housed at the St. Louis City Art Museum, Emil Nolde's Woman in a Bright Light and Max Beckmann's The Dream. Nolde, a first-generation expressionist, will be discussed in terms of his art's qualities which are thought to represent the Expressionist movement. From this point, I will discuss Beckmann, a later Expressionist, and defend his art as Expressionistic in just as true of a sense as Nolde' s art even though these two masters' works are stylistically very different. Such differences are due, more than anything, to the way that Germany has developed artistically and historically, creating artists who tend to be very individualistic in character.


Includes bibliographical references.||Many pages scanned twice.


25 pages




Northern Illinois University

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