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Itzhak Goldberg

Among the long list of “isms”, expressionism holds a large place. But what does it refer to, exactly? As expressed in this remarkable book -which hurts our wrists as we hold it too long-, there was a time when Matisse and the fauvist artists were put together under the label of French expressionism. Today though the term is almost monopolized by the Austro-German matrix, to which was added, after the Second World War, abstract American expressionism with Pollock, of which the author evaluates the degree of kinship. It is those landscapes in bright, jarring colors, -blue horses after all! –, those portraits circled with wide black lines, the general atmosphere of primitive freedom. The two founding moments are replaced in their European context: Die Brücke (born in 1905 in Dresden, instigated by Kirchner and three friends, but named this way only after its demise in 1914) and Der Blaue Reiter (founded in 1911 in Munich with Kandinsky and Marc as spearheads). Expressionism could have petered out calmly in a calm European continent, but it would regenerate itself at two monstrous sources: war and the metropolis. Another channel would result from it. A ferocious, bloody, and tragic channel: the one of Grosz, Meidner, Dix, Beckmann, that the Nazis would quickly catalogue as being “degenerate” but which would settle more solidly the posterity of the movement in the history of art.

L’Expressionnisme, by Itzhak Goldberg, Citadelles & Mazenod, 2017, 400 p., €189.

L’Expressionnisme - Itzhak Goldberg

Review published in the newsletter #479 - from 29 June 2017 to 5 July 2017

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