Dr Sabine Wieber, lecturer in art history, University of Glasgow

Expressionism was an international movement in art that flourished between 1905 and 1920. Its proponents shared an interest in committing feelings rather external realities to the canvas. In Germany, two artists’ groups were the catalysts: ‘The Bridge’ (1905) and ‘The Blue Rider’ (1909). Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Ernst Haeckel, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc championed a highly personal painting style that embraced vivid colours, stark lines and emotionally charged subjects. They believed that artistic renewal and spiritual liberation would revolutionise German society. This course examines German Expressionism in terms of its stylistic features, ideology and socio-historical context. It will pay attention to key themes such as ‘the nude’, ‘nature’, ‘city life’, ‘primitivism’, and ‘religion’ in the oeuvre of leading artists of the movement. The course concludes with the Expressionists’ response to Germany’s drastically altered cultural and political landscape generated by the so-called November Revolution of 1918–19.



1. Introduction: What is Expressionism?

2. Dresden/Berlin: The Bridge (Die Brücke)

3. Munich: The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter)

4. Other German Expressionists

5. 1919: Art and revolution


Recommended reading

Barron, S. & Dube, W-D. 1997 German Expressionism: Art and Society, 1909-1925. London: Thames & Hudson.

Behr, S. 1999. Expressionism. London: Tate.

Elger, D. 2002. Expressionism: A Revolution in German Art. Cologne/London: Taschen.

Wolf, N. 2004. Expressionism. Cologne/London: Taschen.



Date: 14 –18 January 
Time: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES Full: R550,00  Staff and Students R275,00
Venue: LT1 Kramer Law Building UCT