Expressionism is an international movement that emerged within expression art, literature, architecture, film and music in around 1905. The highlight of this movement was in the first quarter of the 20th century. Expressive artists were not particularly concerned with portraying existing reality, but more to express emotions. The artists did not shy from dramatic effects in order to achieve maximum expressiveness. The painter Jacob Bendien worded this as follows: 'If an expressionist paints a sheep being mauled by a wolf, he does not paint a sheep or a wolf with paws and nails and long or short hair, but he paints mauling and being mauled'. To the expressionists, people are of prime importance. Their emotions (emotions, religious persuasion, social and political protest) are portrayed spontaneously and directly. The work of expressionist painters is mostly identifiable from the somewhat hurried and primitive appearance. Shapes are simplified, the vivid, often unnatural colours contrast sharply with one another, often strong contour lines are used and distortions play an important role. Particularly the primitive folk art, for example from Africa featured strongly in the images. Particularly in Germany expressionism blossomed amongst groups of artists such as the group from Dresden, Die Brücke (Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff) and the Munich group Der Blaue Reiter (Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc). Well-known expressionist sculptors in Germany were K. Kolwitz and Ernst Barlach. Both produced strong socially engaging work from a strong solidarity with the innocent and the lonely.

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