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Characteristic Elements of Expressionist Painting

Within Expressionism in general, we find very different artists and groups of artists. Notwithstanding this, there are certain elements we can see recurrently and that make up the essence of the movement.


Emotional distortion. Gestures, characters and elements of the work deformed to express moods, emotions and feelings.

Vibrant colors that express what the artist feels. Colors move away from reality to reflect the inner world of the artist.

Gestural brushstroke. A brushstroke that expresses an emotion or a mood regardless of what is being painted.

Synthetic, conclusive drawing.

Tendency to abstraction.

Primitivism. Influence of ancestral art and/or exotic cultures with a lot of instinct.


Inattention to the rules of perspective and proportions.

Instinctive execution rather than a rational one.


Recommended links:


Primitivism in Modernity.

Six examples of primitivism.

The Avant-garde movements.

Soutine’s Expressionist Landscape.

The Scream (1893), Edvard Munch.

The Bridge and the Tools of Expressionism.

Characteristic Elements of Impressionist Painting.

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