Neo-expressionism is a style of modern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s. Related to American Lyrical Abstraction of the 60s and 70s, Bay Area Figurative School of the 50s and 60s, the continuation of Abstract Expressionism, New Image Painting and precedents in Pop painting, it developed as a reaction against the conceptual art and minimal art of the 1970s. Neo-expressionists returned to portraying recognizable objects, such as the human body (although sometimes in an abstract manner), in a rough and violently emotional way using vivid colours and banal colour harmonies.

Overtly inspired by the so-called German Expressionist painters--Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner--and other expressionist artists such as James Ensor and Edvard Munch. Neo-expressionists were sometimes called Neue Wilden ('The new wild ones'; 'New Fauves' would better meet the meaning of the term). The style emerged internationally and was viewed by many critics such as Achille Bonito Oliva and Donald Kuspit as a revival of traditional themes of self-expression in European art after decades of American dominance. The social and economic value of the movement was hotly debated.

Critics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Craig Owens, and Mira Schor were highly critical of its relation to the marketability of painting on the rapidly expanding art market, celebrity, the backlash against feminism, anti-intellectualism, and a return to mythic subjects and individualist methods they deemed outmoded. Women were notoriously marginalized in the movement, and painters such as Elizabeth Murray and Maria Lassnig were omitted from many of its key exhibitions, most notoriously the 1981 "New Spirit in Painting" exhibition in London which included 38 male painters but no female painters.


Neo-expressionism around the world

See also


Suggested reading

Buchloh, Benjamin. "Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting." October 16 (Spring 1981): 39–68.

Curley, Mallory. A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia. Randy Press, 2010.

Foster, Hal, "The Expressive Fallacy," Art in America 71 (January 1983): 80-83, 137.

Kuspit, Donald. "Flak from the ‘Radicals’: The American Case Against Current German Painting," in Jack Cowart, ed., Expressions: New Art from Germany. St. Louis: St. Louis Art Museum, 1983.

Kuspit, Donald, A Critical History of 20th Century Art, chapters 8 and 9., 2006,

Lawson, Thomas. "Last Exit: Painting." Artforum 20, no. 2 (October 1981): 40–47.

A New Spirit in Painting. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1981.

Oliva, Achille Bonito, The International Trans-avantgarde. Milan: Giancarlo Politi, 1982.

Owens, Craig, "Honor, Power, and the Love of Women," Art in America 71 (January 1983): 7-13.

Schor, Mira, "Appropriating Sexuality," M/E/A/N/I/N/G 1 (December 1986).

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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