A Visit With the German Expressionists
During our recent trip to California my husband spent an afternoon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where I spent an enjoyable hour to myself in an intimate room surrounded by work of the German Expressionists (around 1920’s).
There were small drawings and prints by artist such as; Kathe Kollwitz, Max Beckmann and George Grosz. These powerful works draw the viewer in with their strong tonal contrast and often dark or highly political subject matter. The artists behind these pieces intended to relate an idea or experience rather than represent reality.
The German Expressionist movement also encompassed film. I remember years ago seeing an early black and white German expressionist film at UBC in my History of Film class (one of my favourite university classes) called Nosteratu – an early Dracula. It was shot with sharp angles, long shadows and strong light and dark contrast that later influenced directors such as Alfred Hitchcock.
I think this movement has always attracted me because of many of these artists’ belief in the power of art to change people’s view of the world around them – “to reveal the reality hidden below the surface of things”.
Image (above): painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (below): still from movie “Nosferatu” 1922