Expressionism encompasses the art movement that existed from 1905 to 1925. Expressionism is characterized by distortion and exaggeration in order to create an emotional effect Expressionist artists do not attempt to convey realities, but rather it strives to achieve the highest expression intensity through the use of exaggeration, distortion, primitivism, and fantasy – often incorporating elements of violence and vividness.
Poster art for The Golem by Hans Poelzig.
Expressionism arose first in Germany around 1910 and some of the major artists influencing the movement included Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh and the fauvism period. Some of the most famous artists of the Expressionism movement include Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Alfred Kubin, Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Edvard Munch, and Marc Chagall.
Within the group, artistic approaches and aims varied from artist to artist; however, the artists shared a common desire to express spiritual truths through their art. They believed in the connection between visual art and music; the spiritual and symbolic associations of colour; and a spontaneous, intuitive approach to painting.
Fenneker, a German artist in 1920s Berlin, “became the eye of the cultural and political hurricane that was Weimar Germany”. A painter, graphic designer, and stage designer, he worked in a “mixed style, strongly tinged with expressionist characteristics”, and there is the foreboding of gathering storms and imminent, though decadent, doom in almost all his work. in the postwar years he became “one of the most sought after designers of film posters.
Josef Fenneker (1895-1956) designed over three hundred movie posters. His recognizable style drew largely on German Expressionism combined with a flair of aesthetic decadence.
Poster Oskar Kokoschka Germany 1907
Cubist and surrealist art had a major effect on graphic design, including the expressionist posters of Germany. Expressionist were concerned with the human condition and felt a deep empathy for the poor and social outcasts.
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was heavily influenced by painters such as Gaugin, Van Gogh, Munch, and Klimt. He created complex posters for theatre productions and literary novels, geared towards the elite educated class.