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How To Create Expressionist Art? German Expressionism, Alexej Von Jawlensky In The City Of Evian

The Art Of Expressionism

Recently I had a pleasure of visiting an exhibition of German Expressionism in a picturesque city of Evian, France.

Evian Is A City Known For Its Thermal Waters

The exhibition took place at the Palais Lumière - a place historically known as a Thermal Water Establishment.

Built In 1902 By The Architect Ernest Brunnarius, Palais Lumière Is One Of The Finest Examples Of The "Water Towns" Architecture Of The Early 20th Century

In 1996 the building was renovated as a Cultural Centre.

Located In The Heart Of Evian, PL is Facing Lac Léman Waterfront

The Exhibition was focused on German Expressionism, a genre established in 1905 and active until 1930's. Focus of the Exhibition was on Paintings, active until 1920's. So I decided to find out, what makes an Expressionist Art?

Artists Of German Expressionism

Let's explore together,

What constitutes Expressionist Art?

On the example of the artwork by Alexej von Jawlensky "Head Of A Girl With Red Turban And Yellow Clasp".

"Head of A Girl With a Red Turban and a Yellow Clasp" by Alexej von Jawlensky, 1912

From the first glance at the artwork, we see strong use of colors: predominantly red & purple.

Red color is possibly an homage to the origins of Author: Alexej von Jawlensky was born in Russia, where color red is associated with Beauty (Matryoshkas; Russian language). While purple has historically been known as a color of Monarchs. This re-enforces the fact that German Expressionism appealed to a use of Symbolism.

Expressionism is known for evoking Emotions in the Viewer.

Bold lines are used to express facial features of the Model (it is argued that depicted was an artist Katharina Konstantinowka); which was customary in the art of Expressionism. The use of bold lines could be explained by the fact that:

Expressionism does not seek to depict reality "as is", but rather aims to showcase emotional state of the Author

Her eyes, looking directly at the Viewer are full of Expression. Despite the use of many different bright colors, every feature of this painting is in harmony with each other; which is a deeper sign of the Author's intention to create Harmony.

Now you can attempt to create your own Painting in the genre of Expressionism! So how do you create an Expressionist Artwork?

All you need to do is:

- Want to express strong feelings via a Painting

- Ask yourself, what do you want to Express?

  • How are you feeling?

  • What Emotion do you want to evoke in the Viewer?

- Use bright colors

- Use colors symbolically

- Feature bold lines or find a new way of expressing Emotion

- Be inspired by Harmony

I would be happy to see your Artworks. In the meantime, here's my take on it:

Let me know in the comments what Artwork or Genre would you like to see analysed next?


German Expressionism is called "German" because it was prevalent in the regions of Germany & Austria; and was founded in Germany. German Expressionism was further established in Filmography, Literature, Music as well Architecture. Modern filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, Woody Allen & Tim Burton have been inspired by German Expressionism while creating some of their movies.

#art #expressionism

Let me know what you think?