The search for expressiveness of style by means of exaggerations and distortions of line and color; a deliberate abandonment of the naturalism implicit in Impressionism in favor of a simplified style intended to carry far greater emotional impact. In this general sense of emotional force Expressionism is a feature of non-Mediterranean art in general, Grunewald being the standard example. In the more limited context of modern art, the drastically simplified outline and very strong color. In France, this has clear affinities with Fauvism, but the principal exponents, apart from Touilouse-Lautrec, were mostly German. The Brucke and the Blaue Reiter ware two of the principal sub-groups, while some of the major individual artists are Beckmann, Ensor, Kokoschka, Nolde, Rouault and Soutine. The nature of their subject-matter and the emphasis placed on outline are two reasons for the important part played by Expressionist graphic art. The Rifkind collection (now in Los Angeles Mus.) of some 6,000 drawings and engravings is one of the finest collections of Expressionist graphics.
Expressionism began in France, prospered in Germany, and developed all over Europe.