What is Expressionism?

Matisse - Interior with a Violin CaseI have been asked many times about Expressionism and what exactly does it mean to paint like an expressionist.

Expressionist artists pretty much are the most hard to define group of artists out there in the modern era. It seems as if the artists that are labeled as Expressionists more or less defined the style as they went along, following their instincts as to the use of color, specifically which colors to use and how often to use them.

Colors where important in Expressionism, but most importantly colors had to be non-realistic.

Henry Matisse who is one of the earliest expressionist painters, believed that “the invention of photography had released painting from the need to copy nature, leaving him free to present emotion as directly as possible and by the simplest means”.

Even Van Gogh, the post-impressionist artist that had influenced Expressionism the most, tried to explain to his brother, Theo about the new way he uses color: “Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily, in order to express myself forcibly.”

To learn more about Expressionism and artists that are considered Expressionist please checkout this great post by Breiana Cecil about the Modern Art Movement

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.