Expressionism was a cultural movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the start of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world in an utterly subjective perspective, radically distorting it for emotional effect, to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of "being alive" and emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Expressionism emerged as an 'avant-garde movement' in poetry and painting before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar years, particularly in Berlin. The movement was embodied in various art forms, including painting, literature, theatre, dance, film, architecture and music.
The term is sometimes suggestive of emotional angst. In a general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco can be called expressionist, though in practice, the term is applied mainly to 20th century works. The Expressionist stress on the individual perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic movements such as naturalism and impressionism.
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