Expressionist Ecstasy Remembering 20th Century Art's Color Revolution

The Folkwang Museum is hosting a show of work that juxtaposes French Fauvism with similar movements across Europe. Politically, the Continent might have been deeply divided in the early 20th century, but the exhibition in Essen provides ample evidence that its artists had much in common.

A new exhibition in Germany pays tribute to modern artists who revolutionized the use of color.

The show marks the first time the Folkwang Museum in Essen has focused on Fauvism and exploring its impact on subsequent art movements, such as German and Russian Expressionism.

The Fauves ("wild beasts") were named by critic Louis Vauxcelles, who was impressed by the revolutionary use of color and vivid brushstrokes on display in a 1905 exhibition of work by Henri Matisse and André Derain.

Led by Matisse, the Fauvists' work marked a break with Impressionism and more traditional approaches to painting, emphasizing painterly qualities and strong color over representational or realistic values.

An Original Artistic Path

Their work has lost none of its impact. In a statement, the museum calls the exhibition a look at "one of the most fascinating chapters in early 20th century art" and has contributed key works from its own collection to the project. "The Fauves chose an entirely original artistic path, redefining the relationship between art and nature in their paintings," the museum says.

As political turmoil gripped Europe in the early 20th century, artists across the Continent continued to look to one another for inspiration.

The evolution in France of the Fauvist style was followed by artists in Germany and Russia with keen interest, with many so intrigued by the movement's artistic preoccupations that they adopted them as a starting point for their own revolutionary developments.

The exhibition, titled "The Ecstasy of Colour -- Munch, Matisse and the Expressionists," also features paintings by André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck along with Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. It also includes works by German and Russian Expressionists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter and Franz Marc.

Nose for Art

The show encompasses over 150 paintings and sculptures, some of which have only rarely been put on public display, if at all.

The Folkwang Museum, which houses a permanent major collection of 19th and 20th century art, says the current show carries on the work of museum founder Karl Ernst Osthaus. In 1906, Osthaus showed he had a nose for a trend when he began buying and exhibiting work by the Fauves, the Expressionists and Edvard Munch.

The exhibition "The Ecstasy of Colour - Munch, Matisse and the Expressionists" runs at the Folkwang Museum in Essen until Jan. 13, 2013 .


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