German Expressionism

nosferatushadow1A number of related creative movements including Die Brucke

and Der Blaue Riter. First emerged in Germany pre WWI, and reached its peak in 1920s. This was a part of a larger Expressionist movement in North and Central Europe.

Theatre, Architecture, Music, Painting and Sculpture is also part of this movement.

German Expressionism in filmaking was  probably the best known part of the movement.  Unable to compete with what was the extravagent features of Hollywood productions the German UFA studios developed their own style by using symbolism and “mise en scene” to add mood and deeper meaning to a movie.

Best known film Nosferatu, a symphony of horror is an exceptional piece of expressionism, taking what the movement was about to show feeling and emotion and suggests the work is created by artist rendering their individual and personal perceptions of the subject.

Artists included in this movement …Max Beckmann. Otto Dix, George Grosz and Edvard Munch.

Max Beckmann 1814-1950 German painter,draftsman, printmaker,sculptor and writer was considered a “degenerate artist” by the Nazi regime and fled to Amsterdam in 1937.   Beckmanns work titled         Night was a response to the end of  WWI , a general strike occured in Germany and the country became a place of  political violence,chaos and famine.   Great cruelty moved from the streets  into the home and according to Beckmann Night and its purpose was to give “mankind a picture of their fate”. 

the night by max beckmann

the night by max beckmann









Degenerate art was a derogatory  title applied to anything modern.  The Nazis restricted anything thought to be degenerate and banned the public from seeing these pieces of work.

Otto Dix

Artist famous for his unique and grotesque style.  Many of his works w

ere destroyed by the Nazi regime . Only after becoming a member of The Imperial Chamber of Fine Art was Dix and many others allowed to continue painting, and only if they conceded to paint non offensive landscape, rather than poltical subject. ” I did not paint war pictures in order to prevent war, I would never be so arrogant, I painted them to exorcise the experience of war. All art is is exorcism”   Otto Dix

Nude girl on a fur by Otto Dix

Nude girl on a fur by Otto Dix

The Maja by Goya

The Maja by Goya

A sense of unglamorised reality painted in the style and comosition of German Renaissance artists..   Dix also employes a similar painting technique to the Old Masters, notable for linearity and use of glazes.
In my opinion this pice is very similar to The Maja by Goya, the first painting to show real nakedness  I can only surmise that Dix was aware of Goya and his work and was influenced by this.
Egon Schiele is another artist I feel had an influence on Otto Dix for the play with the grotesque. Nude girl with crossed arms 1910 his draughtsmanship expresses despair, passion, lonliness and erotisicm.  The rawness made him a controversial artist, and many of his works confiscated or burned as degenerate.
Artists who have been inspired by this movement are Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, both figirative painters, who paint in a realist way, both closely observred pain and are reminscent of Schiele dictum that all living things are dead.


  1. German Expressionism film means more when it symbolizes the creators thought something that Hollywood lacked. Everyone in the course should leave more feedback on these blogs.

    • how one person works compared to another is entirely personal. i know you use your bog more than others and i would never comment on your way of working, but thank you for the imput. keep up the good work david………………………………………..

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