German Expressionism is a cultural movement that is challenging to define as it is not distinguished by a singular style or method of creation, but rather is better described by both the mindset of the artist creating the work and the generation they lived in. The German Expressionists were artists, writers, and thinkers who were of age in Germany prior to World War II, and lived during Wilhelm II’s reign. German Expressionism developed as a result of the younger generation’s reaction against the bourgeois culture of Germany during this time period. The German Expressionist movement was more than just a style of creating works of art or of telling a story, rather it was more of a mindset that had social, cultural, and political aspects. German Expressionism can be understood as a means of approaching life and, in particular, change.
The significance of German Expression is in its ephemeral nature. Many of the publications that resulted from the movement were serials printed on cheaply made paper that has become brittle over time. The movement as a whole was transitional, and it reflected German culture in that moment of change. The movement did not last an especially long time, and started to fade out as its artists and writers aged. As the National Socialists gained power in Germany, Expressionism was rejected and condemned, and many of the works produced in the style of the movement were burned and destroyed.
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