Today, ’Expressionism’ is generally viewed as a German movement – yet in fact it emerged at the start of the 20th century from the enthusiastic engagement of German artists with Classical Modernism in France. ’Van Gogh struck modern art like a bolt of lightning,’ was how one German observer described the painter’s impact on German artists – at a time when they were already coming to terms with Seurat, Signac and the Neo-Impressionists. Then followed Gauguin, Cézanne and Matisse. The response by the artists of ’Die Brücke’ and ’Der Blaue Reiter’ to French Neo-Impressionism and the ’Fauves’ was a veritable riot of colour.
The exhibition – a cooperation with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montréal – reveals Expressionism in its true light, highlighting that it was not a national movement but rather one shaped by the spirit of cosmopolitanism and productive exchange. Together with over 100 masterpieces of Classical Modernism and German Expressionism, it presents the findings of recent research into a history of reception that has hitherto been little studied by scholars.