Works by Impressionist and Expressionist artists draw audiences around the world. This summer, the Nationalgalerie presents a groundbreaking exhibition comparing the two art movements for the first time.
From 1896, Berlin’s Nationalgalerie was the first museum to begin collecting Impressionist paintings under the leadership of museum director Hugo von Tschudi, ahead of museums in Paris and other cities. Tschudi’s successor, Ludwig Justi, went on to assemble a renowned collection of works by Expressionist artists in the former Kronprinzenpalais from 1918 onwards.
This comprehensive exhibition will trace the similarities and differences between the two movements and examine their enduring popularity. Over 170 Impressionist and Expressionist masterpieces, chiefly by German and French artists, have been assembled from the collections of the Nationalgalerie and other international museums and will be exhibited in Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie.
The development of Impressionism is associated with artists including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir in France, and with Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Max Slevogt in Germany. Expressionism, which mounted a strong counter-reaction to Impressionism, originated in Germany and was spearheaded by painters including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, and Franz Marc.
No two other styles were so intensely scrutinized and contrasted during their time as were Impressionism and Expressionism. Attempts to distil the characteristic traits of the ‘art of impressions’ and the ‘art of expressions’ led to antithetical juxtapositions. Impressionism, suffused with a uniquely French joie de vivre, was placed in opposition to the existentialist German Expressionism.