June 11, 2010
German expressionism was a movement that greatly influenced 20th century art, and that is still influencing art today. The German expressionists were inspired by the rich tradition of german printmaking that predates Durer, but also by primitivism. Realistic portraiture was not the main concern, it was teh depiction of emotion, of pain. The confusion and disorientation of modern man at the turn of the century created a need for immediate and tangible meanings. Die Brucke (a group formed involving Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel) created many expressive woodcuts based on their opposition to the war and suffering. The German expressionists were greatly inspired by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. All of these artists had something in common; instead of creating aesthetically pleasing images they created something that felt real.
‘No longer should you paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. There must be living beings who breathe, feel, love, and suffer’ – Edvard Munch
As an essay exam question I was asked to research the prints of German wartime printmaker Kathe Kollwitz. I had briefly looked at her before in printmaking, so i knew the basic concepts behind her work. After reading her diaries and letters I look at the work in an entirely different way. After losing her son on the front line in Belgium, Kollwitz expressed her pain, mourning and loss through her drawings prints and sculptures. She felt committed to expressing human and political concerns in her work.