Expressionism

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Van Gogh, 1888: 'The Night Café, oil-painting on canvas; current location: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, U.S.

Expressionism - in quotes. Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait was to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.

Expressionism in Quotes[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes on Expressionism
Munch, 1893: 'The Scream', famous oil-painting on canvas which inspired the later early 20th-century Expressionists; current location National Gallery in Oslo, Norway
Henri Matisse, 1902: 'Notre-Dame, one late afternoon / Notre-Dame une fin d'après-midi', oil on paper mounted on canvas; current location: Albright–Knox Art Gallery, New York
Paula Modersohn-Becker, c. 1905: 'Self-portrait with green background and blue irises / Selbstbildnis vor grünem Hintergrund mit Iris', oil-painting on canvas
Fritz Bleyl, 1906: 'Brücke', lithographic poster for the first Die Brücke exhibition in Dresden in 1906
Gabriele Münter, 1906: 'Nightfall in St. Cloud / Abend im Park', oil on paperboard mounted on pulpboard; location: Brooklyn Museum, New York
Kandinsky, 1908: 'View from the window of the Griesbräu', oil-painting on canvas; current location: The Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany
Jawlensky, 1909-10: 'Schwebende Wolke / Floating Cloud', oil on cardboard; current location: Norton Simon Museum, California, U.S.
Kirchner, 1910: 'Artistin Marcella', woodcut, over-painted with colors; current location: Kunstmuseum Ravensburg
Marianne von Werefkin, 1910: 'Self-portrait 1.', tempera on paper; current location: The Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany
Max Pechstein, 1910: 'Bathers', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia, U.S.
Kirchner, 1910: design of the poster for the exhibition of Die Brücke, in gallery Arnold in Dresden, 1910
August Macke, 1910: 'Portrait of Franz Marc / Porträt des Franz Marc', oil on paperboard; current location: Neue Nationalgalerie
Franz Marc, 1911: 'The Dream / Der Traum', oil-painting on canvas; current location, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid, Spain
Otto Mueller, 1911: 'Bathers / Badende', glue paint on plucking; location: unknown
Franz Nölken, c. 1912: 'Kindergruppe im Park', oil-painting on paper
Kirchner, 1914: 'View from the Window / Blick aus dem Fenster', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, U.S.
Emil Nolde, 1915: 'South Sea Islander / Südsee-Insulaner II', lithograph in colors, on wove paper; current location: Brooklyn Museum, New York
Erich Heckel, 1918: 'Portrait of a Man', a self-portrait in colored woodcut on paper; current location, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. U.S.
Otto Mueller, 1919: 'Three Nudes in a Landscape / Drei Akte in Landschaft', tempera on canvas; cuurent location: Brücke Museum, in Berlin

Quotes, 1888 - 1910[edit]

  • I've just finished a canvas of a café interior at night ['The Night Café'], lit by lamps. Some poor night-prowlers are sleeping in a corner. The room is painted red, and inside, in the gaslight, the green billiard table, which casts an immense shadow over the floor. In this canvas there are 6 or 7 different reds, from blood-red to delicate pink, contrasting with the same number of pale or dark greens.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh (1888), in a letter to his sister Willemien, referring to his famous painting 'The Night Café' (Arles, 9/14 September 1888)
  • No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.
    • Quote of Edvard Munch (1889), in 'Impressions from a ballroom, New Year's Eve in St. Cloud' also known as 'The St. Cloud Manifesto' (1889)
  • As I was painting today, some thoughts came to me and I want to write them down for people I love. I know that I shall not live very long. But I wonder, is that sad? Is a celebration more beautiful because it lasts longer? And my life is a celebration, a short, intense celebration. My powers of perception are becoming finer.. ..with almost every breeze I take, I get a new sense and understanding of the linden tree, of ripened wheat, of hay.. .I suck everything up into me. And if only now love would blossom for me, before I depart; and if I can paint three good pictures, then I shall go gladly, with flowers in my hair...
    • Quote of Paula Modersohn-Becker (1897), quote from her 'Journal', w:Worpswede; as quoted in Voicing our visions, – Writings by women artists, ed. Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, p. 196
  • Recently I have felt just what the mood of colors means to me: it means that everything in this picture changes its local color according to the same principle and that thereby all muted tones blend in a unified relationship , one to the other [during a stay in Paris]
    • Quote of Paula Modersohn-Becker (24 July 1898), quote from her 'Journal', from Paris; as quoted in Voicing our visions, – Writings by women artists, ed. Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, p. 197
  • The artist is the only one who detaches himself from life, opposes his personality against it, he is the only one who orders things as he wishes them to be in place of things as they are. Thus for him life is not a fait accompli, it is something to remake, to do again. He takes possession of his gifts in order to continue, to change, He makes his choice, it is he who creates the conceptions of beautiful and ugly, those are the things to preserve, the things to change. At the seat of the things that it is necessary to change he puts his desires, his aspirations, in one word, his personality..
    • Quote of Marianne von Werefkin (1901 - 1905), quote in her Lettres à un Inconnu, 1901 – 1905, Vol 1 'My beautiful One, My Unique!', Museo Communale, Ascona; as quoted in Voicing our visions, - Writings by women artists, ed. by Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, p. 132
  • Art is not hysteria. Art is as natural to man as is thought, it is a normal function of his brain. Art is observation and consciousness. It is not an instinct, vague, indecisive, sickly. Art is an eternal source – life, and an unlimited expression, the individual. These two elements, well-adapted, make masterpieces.. .All speech that a human being finds to give a new impression is of art. Why believe that the speech must be epileptic to become art?.. .Such is art. It is the product of life and the individual. It is born from their clash, from the received impression. But this impression is made once, for then it is no longer, neither life nor the individual...
    • Quote of Marianne von Werefkin (1901 - 1905), in her Lettres à un Inconnu, Vol 1 'My beautiful One, My Unique!', Museo Communale, Ascona; as quoted in Voicing our visions, -Writings by women artists, ed. by Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, p. 132
  • We call all young people together, and as young people, who carry the future in us, we want to wrest freedom for our actions and our lives from the older, comfortably established forces.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1906), in the broadside printing 'Programme'; as quoted in Styles, Schools and Movements: The Essential Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art, ed. Dempsey, Amy (2010). Thames & Hudson. p. 74
  • What I want to produce is something compelling, something full, an excitement and intoxication of color – something powerful. The paintings I did in Paris are too cool, too solitary and empty. They are the reaction to a restless and superficial period in my life and seem to strain for a simple, grand effect. I wanted to conquer Impressionism by trying to forget it. What happened was that it conquered me. We must work with digested and assimilated Impressionism...
    • Quote of Paula Modersohn-Becker (Paris, Summer 1907), from a letter to Bernhard Hoetger; as quoted in Voicing our visions, – Writings by women artists; ed. Mara R. Witzling, Universe New York, 1991, p. 207
  • I am trying to heighten my feeling for the organic rhythm in all things, trying to establish a pantheistic contact with the tremor and flow of blood in nature, in animals, in the air – trying to make it all into a picture, with new movements and with colours that reduce our old easel paintings to absurdity.
    • Quote of Franz Marc (1908), in his letter to the publisher Reinhard Piper; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, ed. Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 207
  • ..the rejection of impressionistic copies of nature and a move towards sensing the content, abstraction, – expressing the extract.. [describing her leading idea, for the period she worked side by side in open air with Kandinsky, around the village w:Murnau, circa 1909]
  • The impressions we receive, which often appear merely chaotic, consist of three elements; the impression of the color of the object, its form, and of its combined color and form, i.e., of the object itself. At this point the individuality of the artist comes to the front and disposes, as he wills, these three elements. It is clear, therefore, that the choice of object (i.e., of one of the elements in the harmony of form) must be decided only by a corresponding vibration in the human soul... (Munich, 1910)
    • Quote of Kandinsky (1910), in On the Spiritual in Art; as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 450
  • If until now colour and form were used as inner agents, it was mainly done subconsciously. The subordination of composition to geometrical form is no new idea [the art of the Persians]. Construction on a purely spiritual basis is a slow business, and at first seemingly blind and un-methodical. The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul, so that it can weigh colours in its own scale and thus become a determinant in artistic creation. If we begin at once to break the bonds that bind us to nature and to devote ourselves purely to combination of pure colour and independent form, we shall produce works that are mere geometric decoration, resembling something like a necktie or a carpet. Beauty of form and colour is no sufficient aim by itself .. .It is because our painting is still at an elementary stage that we are so little able to be moved by wholly autonomous colour and form composition. The nerve vibrations are there (as we feel when confronted by applied art), but they get no farther than the nerves because the corresponding vibrations of the spirit which they call forth are weak.
    • Quote of Kandinsky (1910), in On the Spiritual in Art; as cited in: A Concise History of Modern Painting'' - Ch. 7 The Origin and Development of an art of Internal Necessity or Abstract Expressionism, Herbert Read (1959) p. 244

Quotes, 1911 - 1917[edit]

  • The struggle for existence is very difficult here (in Berlin - Die Brücke-artists just moved from Dresden to Berlin], but the possibilities are also greater. I hope that we can create a fruitful new school and convince many new friends of the value of our efforts.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (5 November 1911) in his letter to Louise Schiefler; as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Grosstad, Eros und Natur, aus der verborgenen Sammlungen der Region, Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst Germany, 2005, pp. 113-114
  • What I have to express is not handled with words. It must 'come' to the observer. It must carry its influence over the mind of the individual into that region of him which is more than the mind. The pictures must reach inwards into the deeper experiences of the beholder – and mind you they care in no sense religious tracts – there is no story to them or literature – no morals – they are merely artistic expressions of mystical states – these in themselves being my own personal motives as drawn from either special experiences or aggregate ones.
    • Quote of Marsden Hartley, (June 1911), quote in his letter to Alfred Sieglitz, Hartley Archive, Yale University; as quoted in Marsden Hartley, by Gail R. Scott, Abbeville Publishers, Cross River Press 1988, New York p. 9
  • Only today can art be metaphysical, and it will continue to be so. Art will free itself from the needs and desires of men. We will no longer paint a forest or a horse as we please or as they seem to us, but as they really are.
    • Quote of Franz Marc (1911-1912), in 'Aphorisms', Franz Marc; as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 445
  • Art today is moving in directions of which our forebears had no inkling; the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are heard galloping through the air; artistic excitement can be felt all over Europe – new artists are signalling to one another from all sides; a glance, a touch of the hand, is enough to convey understanding.
    • Quote of Franz Marc, (1912), in Manifesto for 'Der Blaue Reiter' group; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 207
  • [I condemn] this dependence on ancient primitive styles which in their own times grew organically out of a common religion and mystic awareness. [I find it] weak because Gauguin and the like weren't able to create types out of their own confused and fragmented times which could serve us in the way that the gods and heroes served the peoples of old. Matisse is an even sadder representative of this ethnography museum art—from the Asian department.
    • Quote of Max Beckmann (1912); as quoted in 'Urban Exoticism in the Cabaret and Circus,', from German Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity, Jill Lloyd, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991, pp. 85-101
    • Beckmann is attacking here Franz Marc, incl. the Expressionists' primitivism for its lack of intrinsic relation to their own historical tradition.
  • All the younger painters get together and flood out exhibitions with big city pictures.. .Unfortunately all kinds of primitive races have impressed some of the young German painters and nothing seems more important to them than Bushman painting and Aztec sculpture.. .But let's be honest! Let's admit that we are not Negroes or Christians of the early Middle Ages!.. .Why then imitate the mannerisms and points of view of past ages, why proclaim incapacity a virtue? Are those crude and shabby figures we now see in all the exhibits really an expression of the complicated spirit of modern times?
    • Quote of Ludwig Meidner (1914), ; as quoted in 'Urban Exoticism in the Cabaret and Circus,', from German Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity, Jill Lloyd, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991, pp. 85-101
  • At the appointed time, necessities become ripe. That is the time when the Creative Spirit (which one can also designate as the Abstract Spirit) finds an avenue to the soul, later to other souls, and causes a yearning, an inner urge. Since the form is only an expression of the content and the content is different with different artists, it is then clear that there can be many different forms at the same time which are equally good. Necessity creates the form. Fish which live at great depths have no eyes. The elephant has a trunk. The chameleon changes its color, and so forth.
    • Quote of Kandinsky (1912), 'On the Problem of Form' ('Über die Formfrage'), in: Der Blaue Reiter, Munich: R. Piper, 1912, pp. 74-100; as quoted in Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics, Herschel B. Chipp ed. / transl. Kenneth Lindsaych; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968, pp. 155-158
  • Art is something given, not reproduced.. ..the painter paints what he sees with his innermost senses, the expression of his being.. ..every other impression becomes, for him, an inner expression.
  • In war we are all equal, but among a thousand good men, a bullet hit an irreplaceable one… …We painters know well that with the loss of his harmony, the color in German art will become many shades paler.. [on the death of his close art-friend August Macke who created very colorful expressive painting art and who fell in the first months of World War 1.].
    • Quote of Franz Marc (1914), text at the exhibition 'Der Blaue Reiter' (Blue Rider), in Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Netherlands, 2010
  • I have such a passion for painting! I am continually working at form. In actual drawing and in my head, and during my sleep. Sometimes I think I shall go mad, this painful, sensual pleasures tires and torments me so much. Everything else vanishes, time and space, and I think of nothing but how to paint the head of the resurrected Christ.. .Or how shall I paint Minkchen [his wife Minna] now, with her knees drawn up and her head leaning on her hand against the yellow wall with her rose, or the sparkling light in the dazzling whiteness of the anti-aircraft shell-bursts in the leaden, sun drenched sky... [in his letter from the front of World War 1.]
    • Quote of Max Beckmann (11 May, 1915), quote in a letter to his first wife Minna; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 213
  • Every day I studied the nude, and movement in the streets and in the shops. Out of the naturalistic surface with all its variations I wanted to derive the pictorially determined surface.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (21 September 1916), in his letter to Botho Graef; as quoted in Voices of German Expressionism', ed. Victor H. Miesel, Tate publishing, London 2003 p. 18
  • Every painter must traverse for himself that distance from Paris to Aix [Aix-en-Provence, where Paul Cézanne painted often in open air], or from Venice to Toledo [referring to w:El Greco. Expression is for one knowing its own pivot. Every expressor relates solely to himself – that is the concern of the individualist.
    • Quote of Marsden Hartley, quote in the catalogue of 'Forum exhibition 1916', reprinted in 'On art', p. 66-67; as quoted in Marsden Hartley, Gail R. Scott; Abbeville Publishers, Cross River Press, 1988, New York p. 57
  • It seems as though the goal of my work has always been to dissolve myself completely into the sensations of the surroundings in order to then integrate this into a coherent painterly form.

Quotes, 1918 - 1930[edit]

  • Expressionism is not a style but rather an attitude toward life. It is a way of viewing consciousness, rather than ideas, a way of viewing the universe of which the earth is only a part.
  • The revolution has given us the freedom to express and to realize wishes we have had for years. Our sense of duty tells us that work for us alone must be done by us alone. We demand this and we do this without ulterior motives, keeping our eyes only upon the ideal goal: the realization of our historic destiny to attain global awareness.
    • Quote of Max Pechstein (1919), from his article 'Was Wir Wollen', ('What We Want'), in the pamphlet 'An alle Künstler'! ('To All Artists!'), published by the Novembergruppe; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37
  • We hope that a socialist republic not only will make the situation m the art world healthy but will create a unified art epoch for our generation. The beginning of a new unity of people and art will be heralded on the basis of craft, with each artist working in his own fashion. Art will no longer he considered, as it has been in the past, an interesting and genteel occupation for the sons of wealthy loafers. On the contrary, the sons of common people must be given the opportunity..
    • Quote of Max Pechstein (1919), from his article 'Was Wir Wollen', ('What We Want'), in the pamphlet 'An alle Künstler'! ('To All Artists!'), published by the Novembergruppe; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37
  • The 'humanity' toward which the Expressionist turns in the impersonal, as it were, only temporary forum of exhibitions, periodicals, and manifestos is.. ..to be found in no class. Certainly, however, in the final analysis, the property-less are closer to them than the propertied, and an intelligent worker will more easily come to appreciate a Nolde than an intelligent bourgeois.
    • Quote of de:Gustav F. Hartlaub, in Kunst und Religion: Ein Versuch Uber die Moglichkeit neuer religioser Kunst; Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig: 1919, p. 73; as quoted in ' The Revival of Printmaking in Germany ', I. K. Rigby; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 48
  • The painters who now make their entrance are young. Heralds of a new world. They are the hunted, tormented, blissful, dithyrambic prophets of the Wonder of Wonders.. .They call out to you .. .Don't look for what your eye, your all-too-weary eye expects to see.. .That world of yours is failing apart! Can't you see?.. .Turn from your blindness! School the eye! School the spirit! You are human and this is about you.
    • Quote of poet de:Walter Rheiner (1919) in his introduction to the catalogue of an exhibition of the new group Dresdner Sezession staged at the Galerie Emil Richter in 1919; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37
  • My time for circuses, 'Cocottes' and company is over [referring to his 'w:Brücke'-years].. .During my 7 years in Berlin I let the whole essence of that kind of thing seep into me so thoroughly that I now know it back to front, and can leave it. Now I have other tasks, and they lie here [in Switzerland].. .I cannot go down again into the throng. I am more than ever afraid of crowds.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, (5 July 1919), in his letter to architect Henry van de Velde, Frauenkirch; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 224-225
  • They [his 'Street Scene' paintings and drawings of Berlin] originated in the years 1911-14, in one of the loneliest times of my life, during which an agonizing restlessness drove me out onto the streets day and night, which were filled with people and cars.
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, (24 August 1919): notebook entry 'Meine Strasenbilder / ('My street scenes'); as quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Meisterwerke der Druckgraphik, M. M. Moeller, Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart 1990 p. 184
  • To do this, to show the toiling proletarian, I was reduced to the simplest forms, to reproducing simple, organic things that could he comprehended in their natural, their human and their social context.. .The violence of the situation permitted the forceful character of the woodcut.
    • Quote of Conrad Felixmüller is referring to his executed several powerful paintings, drawings, and woodcuts in the early 1920s; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37.
  • The striving for the supernatural appeared to be the reverse side of radical socialism, the expression of a psychosis awakened through war and revolution.
    • Quote of Will Grohmann; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37.
    • Grohmann is referring to the many religious images of the Expressionist artists, circa 1918
  • [proclaiming the destruction of the old order and the rising of a new order in the aftermath of destruction:] We want to pour oil onto the fire - fan the tiny glow into flame - span the earth - make it quiver - and beat more fiercely - living and pulsating cosmos - steaming universe.
    • Quote of Johannes Molzahn (1919), in his 'Das Manifest des absoluten Expressionismus' ('The Manifesto of Absolute Expressionism') in Der Sturm; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37.
  • We send our fondest greetings to all those artists who have heard the call and feel responsible - Cubists, Futurists, and Expressionists. Join us!
    • Quote of Die Novembergruppe, the closing words of their 'Manifesto' in early 1920's; as quoted in Introduction to German Expressionism, 1915-1925: The Second Generation, Stephanie Barron, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988) pp. 10-37.
  • ..whose way of life [of Die Brücke-artists], home, and work was strange to the normal person.. ..and was driven by the very naive and pure need to bring life and art into harmony with one another [his later! description of Der Brücke period in Berlin till c. 1915]
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, in his diary Entry (6 March 1923), Kirchners 'Davoser Tagesbuch'; as quoted in Kirchner and the Berlin street, ed. Deborah Wye, Moma, New York, 2008, p. 20
  • Let us not be misled if our first impression is unexpected and not always pleasing.. ..This latest movement [Expressionism] in art has perhaps even more violent adversaries than those who fought against the masters of the Barbizon School or against the Impressionists.. .Only he who does not see the extraordinary break of history caused by war, by its antecedents and its consequences, can expect that art, this mirror of nations, will continue in its normal way as it did during preceding generations.. .These Germans are not concocting pretty and pleasant pictures with an eye on a comfortable public whose art palate is to be profitably tickled; they are perhaps indifferent to any and all public.. .In this assemblage of post-war art such a hysterical quality predominates.
    • Quote of William R. Valentiner, in the 'Introduction' to the exhibition catalogue, A Collection of Modern German Art, (Fall of 1923); as quoted by Stephanie Barron, The Embrace of Expressionism: The Vagaries of Its Reception in America, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings; The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies 1 (Munich: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Prestel Verlag, 1989, p. 134-135
  • I begin with movement.. .I believe that all human visual experiences are born from movement.. (Kirchner returned for a short stay to Berlin in 1925 and picked up again his favorite motif of women and men, walking in the city-streets]
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, c. 1926, in his unpublished manuscript 'Die Arbeit E. L. Kirchners', by E. L. Kirchner; as quoted in Kirchner and the Berlin street, ed. Deborah Wye, Moma, New York, 2008, p. 39

Quotes, 1931 - 1940[edit]

  • When an Expressionist paints a sheep being torn up and eaten by a wolf, he does not paint a sheep and a wolf with so many legs, nails, long or short fur; no he paints being torn up or tearing up and devouring.. .Just like the sheep, he does not ask himself whether or not the wolf is cruel. Neither is he interested in beauty or ugliness.. ..if we are devouring or being devoured nothing else exists at that moment. Anything we think of afterwards and work into the painting has no value for the Expressionist.
    • Quote of Jacob Bendien (1935), in Richtingen in de hedendaagsche schilderkunst, by Jacob Bendien and Ans Harrenstein-Schräder, Brusse's uitgeversmaatschappij - (transl. Anne Porcelijn) pp. 68-69
  • However, two streams [in German Expressionism] can be clearly defined: namely the movement where power dominates (Schmidt-Rotluff, Pechstein, etc.) and the movement in which openness/susceptibility dominates (Emil Nolde, Munch etc.) The lines in the power stream are taut as opposed to the lines in the more receptive [artists], which are like aimless detours in space.. ..Expressionists often chose sharp contrasts in their search for emotive colors. Their colors are often somber or vague with sudden, bright flashes. Particularly when they portray cultural life, they reflect their somber view of this cultural life. In abstract paintings and paintings of natural scenes however, the colors in Expressionism tend to be idyllically joyous.
    • Quote of Jacob Bendien (1935), in Richtingen in de hedendaagsche schilderkunst, by Jacob Bendien and Ans Harrenstein-Schräder, Brusse's uitgeversmaatschappij - (translation, Anne Porcelijn) pp. 68-69
  • ..how the movement of the passers-by [in his 'Street scene' painting of 1913] is comprehended in the rhombus of the heads which is twice repeated. In this way life and movement arise from an original geometric form. [a diagram is drawn by Kirchner together with this text-line]
    • Quote of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, (27 February 1937), on painting his street scenes in Berlin, in a: letter to Carl Hagemann; as quoted in Kirchner and the Berlin street, ed. Deborah Wye, Moma, New York, 2008, p. 81 note 31
  • In the Spring of 1911 Marianne von Werefkin, Andrei, Helene and I went to Prerow on the Baltic. For me that Summer meant a great step forward in my art. I painted my finest landscapes there, as well as large figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours and not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were very strongly contoured in Prussian blue, and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy. 'Der Buckel', 'Violetter Turban' (1911), 'Selbstporträt' (1912).. ..were created in this way. It was a turning-point in my art. It was in these years, up to 1914.. ..that I painted my most powerful works...
    • Quote of Alexej von Jawlensky (1938), from 'Lebenserinnerungen', in 'Catalogue Raisonné of the oil Paintings', ed. Maria Jawlensky, Angelica Jawlensky and Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky; published resp. in 1991, 1992, 1993, p. 77

Quotes, 1941 and later[edit]

  • As an artist I must conform to my nature. My nature has a lyrical as well as a dramatic disposition. Not one day is the same. One day I feel wonderful to work and I feel an expression, which shows in the work. Only with a very clear mind on a clear day I can paint without interruptions and without food because my disposition is like that. My work should reflect my moods and the greatest enjoyment I had when I did the work...
    • Quote of Hans Hofmann (1950), in 'Artists' Session at Studio 35'; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 225
  • Well, when we [ (Kandinsky & Gabriéle Münter] first met, Munich was still very much a center of w:En plein air painting, and Kandinsky himself was a plein-air painter too, to some extent. We used to go out sketching and painting together in the countryside [around Murnau ], and he painted a picture of me sketching, and I also did one of him [on board in oil]. That was a long time ago in 1903.
    • Quote of Gabriele Münter (late interview in 1958); as quoted in text at the exhibition 'Der Blaue Reiter' (Blue Rider), Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Netherlands, 2010
  • As far as I am concerned, I learned this technique [the use of flat areas made in bright color, sometimes in contrasting juxtaposition, sometimes like pieces of colored glass in heavy outlines, c. 1906-1910] from Kandinsky and, at the same time, from the glass paintings of the Bavarian peasants of the w:Murneau area, who had painted for centuries in this style.
    • Quote of Gabriele Münter (late interview in 1958); as quoted in Dialogues – conversations with European Artists at Mid-century, Edouard Roditi, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, London, 1990, p. 117
  • But we had no contact with the painters of the Dachau- and w:Worpswede School [where a.o. Paula Modersohn-Becker and the young Bram van Velde were settled]. It was only much later, for instance, that we discovered that Hoelzel had already been experimenting with non-objective compositions as early as 1908. We [artists of Der Blaue Reiter in Munich] were only a group of friends who shared a common passion for painting as a form of self-expression.
    • Quote of Gabriele Münter (late interview in 1958); as quoted in Dialogues – conversations with European Artists at Mid-century, Edouard Roditi, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, London, 1990, p. 117
  • Each of us [the Der Blaue Reiter artists] was interested in the work of the other members of our group, much as each of us was also interested in the health and happiness of the others. But we were still far from considering ourselves as a group or a school of art.. .I don't think we were ever as programmatic in our theories, as competitive or a self-assertive, as some of the modern [art] Schools of Paris.
    • Quote of Gabriele Münter (late interview in 1958); as quoted in Dialogues – conversations with European Artists at Mid-century, Edouard Roditi, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd, London, 1990, p. 118
  • I felt it necessary to evolve entirely new concepts (of form and space and paintings) and postulate them in an instrument that could continue to shake itself free from dialectical perversions. The dominant ones, Cubism and Expressionism, only reflected the attitudes of power or spiritual debasement of the individual.
    • Quote of Clyfford Still (1963), interview with Ti Grace Sharpless; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 200
  • Expressionism can be understood as part of a Romantic tradition, as opposed to Classical directions that embrace ideas of balance and harmony. Ik German, in the early years of the second decade of the 20th century Expressionism actually served as an umbrella term for various avant-garde modes including Cubism, Futurism and Orphism, as well as home-grown developments. It was only in 1914.. ..that the term became associated specifically with German art and, in particular, artists of the Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) groups.
    • Quote of Deborah Wye, in 'Introduction: Stetting the Stage', Kirchner and the Berlin street, MOMA, New York 2008, p. 19

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