Expressionist Paintings
Greatest Examples of 20th Century Expressionist Art.

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Head (1910) Alexei von Jawlensky
Museum of Modern Art, New York.

One of the great expressionist portraits.

For dates, see: History of Art Timeline.
For specifics, see: Art Movements.

Greatest Expressionist Paintings (c.1880-1950)


Characteristics of Expressionist Paintings
Greatest Expressionist Paintings (c.1880-1950)
Early Expressionism
Die Brucke (The Bridge)
Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider)
Die Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity)
Ecole de Paris (Paris School)
Austrian Expressionism
Belgian Expressionism
Czech Expressionism
Russian Expressionism
Australian Expressionism

For a guide to the meaning,
of the visual arts, see:
Definition of Art.

Portrait of Moise Kisling (1915)
Private Collection.
By Modigliani of the Ecole de Paris

Other Paintings

Charing Cross Bridge (1906)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
By Fauvist painter Andre Derain.

Characteristics of Expressionist Paintings

Expressionism is a general style of painting. It encompasses most of the genres, notably landscape painting (including townscapes) and portrait art (including caricature). Typically, expressionist painters aim to show how they feel about a chosen subject. Thus, for instance, the shapes drawn, the colours used, the thickness and texture of paint applied, as well as the type of brushstrokes used, will be chosen so as to best convey the painter's attitude to the object or scene represented. The precise characteristics of an expressionist work vary wildly according to the attitude of the painter. Where strong feelings are involved, an artist may resort to quite unrealistic distortion, or even semi-abstract forms, while colour may be especially bold or garish. Other less incendiary feelings may be conveyed in a more subtle fashion, using symbolism or ironical juxtapositions. In contrast to this, Impressionism - itself an extreme version of naturalism - is all about optical truth: namely, the capture of a particular visual moment in time, exactly how it appears. The expressionist artist, however, has no interest in recording visual truth: he is simply interested in expressing his feelings and emotions in paint. The expressionist movement spread throughout the arts, including sculpture, literature, poetry, theatre and cinema. See also: History of Expressionist Painting (c.1880-1930).


Old Masters (Painters to 1830)
Famous Painters (1830-2010)

For a list of the Top 10 painters/
sculptors: Best Artists of All Time.


As a movement in the history of art, Expressionism first emerged in certain late forms of Post-Impressionism, which appeared during the final two decades of the nineteenth century. Early pioneers included Van Gogh (1853-1890), most of whose paintings were autobiographical, notably his self-portraits; Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), noted for his use of Cloisonism (blocks of colour) and Symbolism; Edvard Munch (1863-1944), the nervy student of psychoanalysis; and the primitivist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907).

These early artists were followed by three important expressionist groups, based in Dresden, Munich and Paris.

Die Brucke (Bridge) (1905-13) Dresden
Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) (1911-14) Munich
Fauvism (Wild Beasts) (1905-1907) Paris

After 1914, the expressionist style of painting spread to other members of the Ecole de Paris, and to other countries in Europe. During the 1920s, another style of German Expressionism appeared, known as Die Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The expressionist idiom then declined during the 1930s, since most avant-garde art during the inter-war years was concerned with Surrealism. Not until the late 1940s in America did expressionism reemerge as a movement - this time in the form of Abstract Expressionism - which we do not consider here.


Greatest Expressionist Paintings (1880-1950)

See below for a selected list of the greatest 20th century paintings in the expressionist style.

MNd'AM = Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris.
SGiL = Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich.
SGMA = State Gallery of Modern Art, Munich.

Early Expressionism

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Brooding Woman (1891) Worcester Art Museum, MA.
Where Do We Come From? Who Are We? (1897) Boston MFA.
Girl with a Fan (1902) Folkwang Museum, Hessen.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
The Potato-Eaters (1885) Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889) Courtauld Institute Galleries, London.
Starry Night (1889) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Wheat Field with Crows (1890) Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
The Sick Child (1885) National Gallery, Oslo.
Portrait of the Painter Jensen-Hjell (1885) National Gallery, Oslo.
The Scream (1893) National Gallery, Oslo.
The Madonna (1894) National Gallery, Oslo.
Girl Washing (1896) National Gallery, Oslo.

Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907)
The Old Farmer (1903) Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
Self-Portrait with Amber Necklace (1906) PM-B Museum, Bremen.
Poorhouse Woman with Glass Bowl (1907) Ludwig Roselius Collection, Bremen.
Woman with Flowers (1907) Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal.

Fauvist Expressionist Paintings

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Luxe Calme et Volupte (1904) Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
Harmony in Red (1908) Hermitage, St Petersburg.
Nude (Black and Gold) (1908) Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
La Danse (1910) Hermitage, St Petersburg.
Nasturtiums and the 'Dance' (1912) Metropolitan Museum.

Andre Derain (1880-1954)
Harbour of Collioure (1905) private collection.
The Old Tree (1905) MNd'AM, Paris.
Boats at Collioure (1905) Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf.
Self-Portrait in a Floppy Hat (1905) private collection.
Lady in a Chemise (1906) State Museum for Art, Copenhagen.
Effect of Sun on the Water (1906) Musee de l'Annonciade, Saint-Tropez.
Charing Cross Bridge (1906) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
The Trees (1906) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York.
Charing Cross Bridge I (1906) Whitney Museum, New York.

Albert Marquet (1875-1947)
Matisse Painting a Model in Manguin's Studio (1905) MNd'AM, Paris.
Le Pont-Neuf (1906) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
The Seine at Paris (1907) private collection.

Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
The Bar Counter (1900) Musee de Calvet, Avignon.
Man with a Pipe (1900) MNd'AM, Paris.
Bougival (1905) Emery Reves Collection.
Tugboat on the Seine (1906) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
The Blue House (1906) Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The Wheat Field (Champs de Ble) (1906) Milwaukee Art Museum.

Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
The Red Dancer (1907) Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
Woman in Black Hat (1908) Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
Le Coquelicot (The Corn Poppy) (1919) Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Albi.

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
The Pantheon and St. Etienne-du-Mont (1904) Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Posters at Trouville (1906) MNd'AM, Paris.
Boats at Martigues (1908) Courtauld Institute Galleries, London.
Casino at Nice (1927) Private Collection.
Open Window, Nice (1928) Art Institute, Nice.

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Antwerp: Ships with Flags (1905) Kunstmuseum, Basel.
The Quay at Estaque (1906) MNd'AM, Paris.

Othon Friesz (1879-1949)
Portrait of Fernand Fleuret (1907) MNd'AM, Paris.
Sunday at Honfleur (1907) Musee Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi.
The Woman on the Green Sofa (1927) private collection.

Marcel Gromaire (1892-1971)
The Lines of the Hand (1935) MNd'AM, Paris.

Jean Puy (1876-1960)
Saint Alban-les-Eaux (1904) MNd'AM, Paris.

Charles Camoin (1879-1964)
Portrait of Albert Marquet (1904) MNd'AM, Paris.

Henri-Charles Manguin (1874-1949)
Still Life with Copper Pitcher (1903) Private Collection)
Landscape at St Tropez (1905) Hermitage, St Petersburg.
The Parkway (1905) Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.
Morning at Cavaliere (1906) Hermitage, St Petersburg.
Nude Seated on an Ottoman (1908) Private Collection)

Die Brucke Expressionist Paintings

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
The Street (1908) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Marzella (1909-10) Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Semi-Nude Woman with Hat (1911) Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.
Berlin Street Scene, (1913) Brucke Museum, Berlin.
Five Women in the Street (1913) Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.
Portrait of Gerda (1914) Van der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal.
Self-Portrait as a Soldier (1915) Allen Memorial Art Museum, Ohio.

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976)
Farmhouse in Dangast (1910) Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Mud Flat at Low Tide (1912) Private Collection.
Pharisees (1912) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Portrait of Emy (1919) North Carolina Museum of Art.
Double Portrait of S and L (1925) Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund.

Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
The Prophet (1912) woodcut, various locations.
Young Men From Papua (1913-14) Staatliche Museen, Berlin.
Red Poppies (1920) watercolour on paper, Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York.

Erich Heckel (1883-1970)
Reclining Woman (1909) SGMA, Munich.
Nude on a Sofa (1909) Private Collection.
Landscape Near Dresden (1910) Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Sailing Ships in the Harbour (1911) Westfalisches Landesmuseum, Munster.

Otto Mueller (1874-1930)
Two Women in the Reeds (1922) SGMA, Munich.

Heinrich Nauen (1880-1940)
The Good Samaritan (1914) Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne.

Max Pechstein (1881-1955)
Two Nudes (1909) Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne.
Young Woman with a Red Fan (1910) Folkwang Museum, Essen.

Der Blaue Reiter Expressionist Paintings

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
The Blue Rider (1903) private collection.
Autumn in Bavaria (1908) Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris.
Winter Landscape (1909) Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.
Interior, My Dining Room (1909) SGiL, Munich.
Bedroom in Ainmillerstrasse (1909) SGiL, Munich.
Arabs I (Cemetery) (1909) Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
Church in Murnau (1910) SGiL, Munich.

Alexei von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
Portrait of the Dancer Alexander Sakharov (1909) Lenbachhaus, Munich.
Head (1910) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
• Head of a Woman (1911) National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
• Head of a Woman 'Medusa' (1923) Museum of Fine Arts, Lyon.

Franz Marc (1880-1916)
The Large Blue Horses (1911) Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.
Tiger (1912) SGiL, Munich.
Little Blue Horse (1912) Saarland Museum.
In the Rain (1912) Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich.
Deer in the Forest II (1914) Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
The Fohn Wind in the Marc's Garden (1915) SGiL, Munich.
The Houses of St Germain (1916) SGiL, Munich.
The Golden Fish (1926) Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
Ad Parnassum, (1932) Kunstmuseum, Bern.

August Macke (1887-1914)
Portrait of Franz Marc (1910) Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Park Restaurant (1912) Kunstmuseum, Basel.
View of Tegernsee (1913) Private Collection.
Turkish Cafe I (1914) Bonn.

Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962)
Moscow Street (1909) Private Collection.
Spring in the City (1911) Cudnovsky Collection, Moscow.

Gabriele Munter (1877-1962)
Man Seated at a Table (Portrait of Kandinsky) SGiL, Munich.
Jawlensky and Werefkin (1908-9) Lenbachhaus Gallery, Munich.
Portrait of Marianne von Werefkin (1909) SGiL, Munich.
Meditation (1917) SGiL, Munich.

Adolf Erbsloh (1881-1947)
Nude with Garter (1919) SGMA, Munich.

Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)
The Balcony (1913) Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett.

Die Neue Sachlichkeit Expressionist Paintings

Otto Dix (1891-1969)
The Match Seller (1920) Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.
Pimp with Prostitutes (1922) private collection.
Portrait of Sylvia von Harden (1926) National Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

George Grosz (1893-1959)
Suicide (1916) Tate Collection, London.
Pillars of Society (1926) Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Self-Portrait in a Tuxedo (1927) Harvard Museum.
Departure (1932-3) MOMA, New York.
Birds' Hell (1938) St Louis Art Museum.
The Beginning (triptych) (1949) Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Christian Schad (1894-1982)
Self-Portrait With Model (1927) Tate Gallery, London.
Operation (1929) Lenbachhaus, Munich.

Rudolph Schlichter (1890-1955)
Dead World (1926) Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

Ecole de Paris Expressionist Paintings (Paris School)

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
The Green Blouse (1919) Metropolitan Museum.
The Terrace at Vernon (1939) Metropolitan Museum.

Frank Kupka (1871-1957)
Planes by Colours (1910-11) National Museum of Modern Art, Paris.
Madame Kupka among Vertical Lines (1910-11) MOMA, New York.
Vertical Planes (1912) MNd'AM, Paris.

Georges Rouault (1871-1958)
In the Mirror (1907) MNd'AM, Paris.
Self-Portrait (1911) Private Collection.
The Clown (1912) Musem of Modern Art, New York.
Christ on the Cross (1936) aquatint on paper, private collection.
The Old King (1937) private collection.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
La Vie (1903) Cleveland Museum of Art.
Blue Nude (c.1904) Picasso Museum, Barcelona.
Girl In a Chemise (1905) Tate Collection, London.
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Guernica (1937) Reina Sofia, Madrid.
Weeping Woman (1937) Tate Collection, London.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Pierrot (1915) State Art Museum, Copenhagen.
Chaim Soutine (1915) Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.
Paul Guillaume (1916) National Museum of Modern Art, Paris.
Portrait of Juan Gris (1915) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Max Jacob (1916) Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf.
Seated Nude (1916) Courtauld Institute.
Bride and Groom (1916) MOMA, New York.
Portrait of Leopold Zborowski (1916) Private Collection.
Reclining Nude ("Nu Couche") (1917-18) Private Collection.
Girl with Braids (1918) Nagoya City Art Museum.
Gypsy Woman with Child (1919) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne (1918) Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Jeanne Hebuterne in a Yellow Sweater (1918-19) Guggenheim Museum, NY.

Note: For an interpretation of works by artists of the Paris school, please see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Sabbath (1909) Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.
The Fiddler (1911) Kunstsammulung Nordrhein-West Falen.
The Village and I (1911) Museum of Modern Art, New York.
War (1964-6) Kunsthaus, Zurich.

Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Portrait of Oscar Miestschaninoff (1923) MNd'AM, Paris.
Page Boy at Maxim's (1927) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.
Portrait of Madeleine Castaing (1928) Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Austrian Expressionist Paintings

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Bride of the Wind (The Tempest) (1914) Kunstmuseum, Basel.
Portrait of Herwarth Walden (1910) State Art Gallery, Stuttgart.
The Refugees (1916-17) SGMA, Munich.
Paris: the Louvre (1925) private collection.

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Self-Portrait Nude (1910) Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna.
The Embrace (1917) Osterreichischegallerie, Vienna.

Belgian Expressionist Paintings

Leon Spilliaert (1881-1946)
Tall Trees (1921) private collection.

Rik Wouters (1882-1916)
Portrait of Nel Wouters (1912) Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.

Constant Permeke (1886-1952)
The Fiances (1923) Museum of Modern Art, Brussels.

Gustave de Smet (1877-1943)
The Village Fete (1930) Musee des Beaux-Arts, Ghent.
The Striped Skirt (1941) private collection.

Czech Republic Expressionist Paintings

Emil Filla (1882-1953)
Portrait of a Man (1907) National Gallery, Prague.

Antonin Prochazka (1882-1945)
Portrait of a Young Man (1909) National Gallery, Prague.

Bohumil Kubista (1884-1918)
The Players (1909) National Gallery, Prague.

Russian Expressionist Paintings

Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910)
The Seated Demon (1890) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Girl against a Persian Carpet (1886) Museum of Russian Art, Moscow.

Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947)
The Battle of Kerzhenets (1911) Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
The Conquest of Kazan (1914) Picture Gallery of Armenia.

Martiros Saryan (1880-1972)
Constantinople Street: Midday (1910) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Sunrise Over Ararat (1923) Lunacharskaya Collection, Moscow.

Australian Expressionist Paintings

Russell Drysdale (1912-81)
Man Reading a Paper (1941) University of Sydney Art Collection.
Sofala (1947) Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Snake Bay at Night (1959) Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Sidney Nolan (1917-92)
Burke and Wills Expedition (1948) Sidney Nolan Trust.
Riverbend I (1964-5) Australian National University Art Collection, Canberra.
Fremantle Series (1970-9) Australian National Gallery, Canberra.

For information about postwar groups of expressionists in America, see: Abstract Expressionism. This general movement encompasses styles and groups such as: Action Painting (c.1950-55, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner); Gesturalism (Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline); Colour Field Painting (c.1948-68, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Stills, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski); Post-Painterly Abstraction (c.1955-65, Clement Greenberg); and Hard Edge Painting (Late 1950s/early 60s, Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Brice Marden, Kenneth Noland, Ad Reinhardt). For European postwar expressionists, see: Art Informel, as practiced by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-92) and others.

For styles, see: Lyrical Abstraction (1945-60, Pierre Soulages, Hans Hartung, Georges Mathieu, Nicolas de Stael, Jean-Paul Riopelle) and Tachisme (late 1940s/50s, Jean Fautrier, Georges Mathieu, Wols, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis). For figurative expressionism, see: Francis Bacon, the leading postwar surrealist/expressionist painter.

Expressionist works can be seen in all of the best art museums around the world.

• For a list of outstanding older works, see: Greatest Paintings Ever.
• For the meaning of important expressionist pictures, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed.
• For information about expressionism, see: Homepage.

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