Modern Art Lessons – Expressionism

In today’s Lessons in Modern Art for the Modern Quilter, it’s time to Express Yourself!  That’s right, we’re at the period of emotional, introspective art that emerged from 1905 throughout the early 1930s that we know as Expressionism.

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The Expressionists continued the style of symbolic color usage popularized by the Fauvists.  However, these new painters turned to inspiration within their own emotions rather than their literal surroundings.  Increased urbanization, as well as the frightening, alienating experience of war created a sense of heightened emotions that started to take prominence in the work of these artists. The subject matter of these pieces became more abstract and sometimes completely isolated from the task of describing physical objects.  This was truly the birth of the abstract art movement.

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Paul Klee – Affected place (1922)

Paul Klee - “Highways and Byways” (1929)

Paul Klee – “Highways and Byways” (1929)

Expressionist art can be evaluated based on how successfully the artists conveyed his or her emotions, rather than the quality of the representation of a landscape, person, or object.  Many of the most prominent Expressionist painters were also musicians.  Here, you can see how Kandinsky’s bright, joyous colors almost vibrate with musical tones:

Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles- Wassily Kandinsky- 1913

Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles- Wassily Kandinsky- 1913

See the works of : Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee

There are many wonderful Modern quilts that reflect the work of these Expressionists.  All of the bright string quilts featured in THIS FLICKR GROUP are reminiscent of the color studies of Kandinsky. 

But in terms of a quilt simply evoking an emotion, I wanted to share this T is for Tipsy Quilt by Dorie of Tumbling Blocks:

T is for Tipsy quilt by Dorie Schwarz

T is for Tipsy quilt by Dorie Schwarz

Although all of the blocks share the same basic pattern and the color-scheme is relatively monochromatic, the brilliant composition absolutely illustrates the desired “tipsy” emotion.  This quilt is playful, liberating, merry-making, and go home T blocks cause you’ve definitely got the spins!

Key Sources: theartstory.org, artfactory.com,

1 Comment

Filed under Inspiration

One response to “Modern Art Lessons – Expressionism

  1. oh my goodness, you have so much good information. And, you have such a good eye for works of art that could make a quilt. quilts everywhere.

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