The term `Expressionist’ was initially applied to French modern painting displayed in a Berlin Secession exhibition of 1911. By the time of the First World War; the broader concept of `Expressionism’ permeated German metropolitan culture at many levels. Though lacking stylistic cohesion, the movement was united by a rejection of Impressionism and a search for an inner, essential reality behind the external world of appearances.
Shulamith Behr explores themes of opposition – from equivocal images of the city and commercial life to counter-images of the country. She examines the artistic communities in Dresden (Die Brucke), Munich (Der Blaue Reiter) and Berlin (Die Pathetiker), and explores the significance of the First World War years and the November Revolution of 1918. Though Expressionist art was categorised as `degenerate’ during the Third Reich, the tradition was absorbed into the repertoire of modernism and received renewed vigour in the post-war period.