Expressionist Art first came formally into being within the professional fine art community around the turn of the 20th century. It derived itself from the European Impressionist movement and one of its first great artists may be considered to be the Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh.
The Impressionist were primarily concerned with expressing the nature of what their eye detected rather than the more realistic art forms that preceded that period. The Expressionist however was more inclined to add a more personal touch to their artwork and were even further from the academic standards that had prevailed in Europe during the preceding centuries. In many ways, just as technology transformed life in the 20th century, the expressionist artist transformed the way art developed. Perhaps it was this rapid change in the pace of life that inspired Norwegian expressionist artist Munch to create the famous artwork "The Scream".
In any case, it took expressionist art several decades to make greater headway and developed primarily in Europe through the German expressionist school. This school involved such talented artists as Schiele and Kandinsky. In many ways though the art of Kandinsky, though showing traits of expressionism rapidly developed towards a more abstract level based on his theories relating numbers and colors.
Indeed the whole concept behind expressionism was to capture an emotion through art and not necessarily expressing it via a figurative image. And this leads us on to the questions of whether art created by elephants can be considered to be expressionist artworks. For this to be true we would require that the elephant be aware of its feelings as it creates the artwork. Given that this would be difficult to directly fathom I believe that there is no fundamental reason to define elephant artwork as expressionist. However, is this also the case for our five year old children?
Young children are often not fully aware of their emotions, but we all know only too well, that they do know how to express themselves through their emotions. As such, if they were to do so while creating and painting a picture then it must be assumed that such a work also contains elements of expressionist art. So, yes! Perhaps your child is an expressionist artist and that should only be encouraged.
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By: John McMenemy