Name applied to early 20th-century art (mainly northern European) where the artist's state of mind is paramount when depicting the real world, which is thus often depicted in distorted forms. More a tendency than a style, it was based on the increasingly acceptable belief by the 1900s that expression is of primary importance and that the formal structure of a work creates the emotional impact. It may be viewed as a reaction against impressionism and Jugendstil.
Definitions vary as to the leading artists/ groups encompassed by this term; generally, the German artists MAX BECKMANN (1884-1950) and EMIL NOLDE (1867-1956) and Austrians OSKAR KOKOSCHKA (1886-1980) and EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918), as well as die brucke and blaue reiter artists form the core of Expressionism. To these can be added the French GEORGES ROUAULT (1871-1958), JULES PASCIN (1885-1930), ANDRé DENOYER de SEGONZAC (1884-1974) and the Ecole de Paris artists.
The term is occasionally applied to Fauves ANDRé DERAIN (1880-1954) and MAURICE VLAMINCK (1876-1958).
L Richard, Phaidon Dictionary of Expressionism (1978)