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Factfile: German art over the centuries

By voyage reporter Jess Frith

Romantic beginnings

In the 1500s, The Danube School, (Donauschule), was among the first to see the landscape as an appropriate subject matter. In this and in their introduction of more reckless and energetic brush strokes, it can be seen as a very early pioneer of what was to develop into German Expressionism four centuries later.

The Romantic Movement swept over Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s. In German art, the Romantic ideals of intense spirituality and unity with nature took a religious direction. The Düsseldorf School monopolised this area.

20th century

Making a disruptive entrance into the early 1900s, German Expressionism excited the art world with its fascination with psychological turmoil. Those involved possessed a desire to extract the dark layers of the human unconscious and show them to the world through images.

In painting, the Expressionists came in two main groups, Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter. Die Brücke was formed in working class Dresden in 1905. The movement Der Blaue Reiter emerged a decade later and existed as a short lived but intense movement. The group believed in spontaneity, spiritual truths and a deep connection between art and music.

German Expressionism in film

After the war, Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity, arrived as a challenge to German Expressionism. Epitomised by the building style of the 'Bauhaus', it favoured simplicity and a lack of sentimentality. But the brooding and chaotic images that disturbed the world in paintings were even more forceful when transferred to the moving image. By 1920, the film industry in Germany was booming and German Expressionism took it by storm.

Make your own art

Wonderful things can happen when you put young Brits and Germans together!

Did you know ...

... the name Der Blaue Reiter ('The Blue Rider') came from key member Franz Marc's love of horses and Wassily Kandinsky's penchant for riders?