Experiments in Color and Form / Expressionism in Germany and Austria

Topic 1:

The Fauvist painters at the turn of the century turned to experiments with color to define form. They built on earlier experiments by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists who used color to explore notions of observable reality or psychological and spiritual experiences. However, the Fauves used color in ways the sought to combine both trajectories. The Fauves seem less interested in fidelity to form as they were the effects color had on the science of vision to create the illusion of the forms they portrayed. Furthermore, the social conditions of Europe at the time were a perfect storm of social and environmental upheaval combined with cultural shifts that pushed the avant-garde in this direction. What impact do you think Impressionists and Post-Impressionists had on Henri Matisse and the other Fauvist painters? What effect did this have on his contemporaries? What, if anything, can be learned from these experiments with color?

Topic 2:

German and Austrian Expressionists had a far different cultural sphere than their French counterparts. Our textbook mentions the effects of Nihilism, Secularism, and several other philosophical ideas that permeated German and Austrian societies. To what extent do you think these ideas formed and informed German and Austrian Expressionism? What differences or similarities do you notice between their contemporaries in France?

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