Exploring Expressionism and Expressionist Rugs

Learn More About Expressionist Art and Expressionism In Area Rugs

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What is Expressionism?

Expressionism is an artistic movement that emerged in the early 20th century, primarily in the fields of visual arts, literature, theater, architecture and movie films. It is characterized by a focus on representing raw, emotional, and subjective experiences rather than objective reality. Expressionist artists and creators sought to convey their inner feelings and thoughts through their work, often using distortion, exaggeration, vivid color palettes, and other stylistic devices to achieve a heightened sense of emotion and intensity.

What are some of the key characteristics of Expressionism?

  • Subjectivity: Expressionists often explored the inner psyche and personal experiences, aiming to express the emotional and psychological states of their subjects or themselves.
  • Distortion: Artists frequently distorted the forms and shapes of objects and figures to evoke a sense of emotional turmoil or intensity.
  • Bold Colors: Expressionist works often feature vivid and non-naturalistic color schemes, with colors chosen for their emotional impact rather than their accuracy in representing reality.
  • Exaggeration: Expressionists sometimes exaggerated facial expressions, gestures, and other elements to emphasize the emotional content of their works.
  • Rejection of Realism: Expressionists typically rejected the realistic representation of the external world in favor of a more subjective and emotionally charged approach.
  • Social and Political Commentary: In addition to personal expression, Expressionism was often used as a means of commenting on social, political, and cultural issues of the time, especially in literature and theater.

Expressionism had its roots in various artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, and Fauvism. It reached its peak in Germany during the early 20th century and had a significant impact on art, literature, and theater worldwide. Notable figures associated with Expressionism include painters like Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky and Egon Schiele, as well as playwrights like August Strindberg and playwrights and filmmakers like Georg Kaiser and F.W. Murnau.

Exploring Expressionism and Expressionist Rugs By Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Exploring Expressionism and Expressionist Rugs

Capturing Emotion with Expressionist Rugs

Expressions rugs are the product of the Expressionism art movement. Expressionism represents the movement from trying to translate the inner world of the artist to the outer world. It has been around for over 100 years and has undergone several transitions to mature into the form in which we know it today. This artistic movement is found throughout many mediums and is not only limited to painting. It has found its way into sculpture, architecture, fashion, and textile arts, including carpet making. Expressionist art in the form of expressionist rugs is beautiful and complex.

Let’s take a look at the roots of Expressionism and its evolution.

History of Expressionist Rugs and Expressionism

To understand Expressionism, we must take a short step back to its ancestral roots. The story begins in the early to mid-1800’s with the Realism movement. This movement was an answer to the Romantic movement. Realist painters tried to capture the world in a very realistic manner, much like a photograph. It sought to capture the visual impression of the subject without consideration of its essence or the emotional experience of the subject.

Realist painters often depicted scenes from everyday life. Then in the 1860’s, a new painting movement began to develop in Paris France. This movement would eventually spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Rather than depicting an exact representation of the world around them, this new group of artists tried to capture the moment and give life to the sensory experience of the scene.

This new group of artists loosened their brushstroke and introduced lighter colors to the dismal palette of the realists.

Gustave Courbet Bonjour Monsieur Courbet Nazmiyal

“Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet”, a realist painting by Gustave Courbet.

The early Expressionists and Expressionism

The first Expressionists began to emerge around the 1880’s. They extended the ideas of Realism and Impressionism to capture more of the inner emotional world of the artist. This movement seems to have arisen almost simultaneously in German cities. It expressed the pervasive anxiety that was being felt in the world. In an outer world that had seemingly gone mad, Expressionists tried to give voice to these emotions by trying to capture them visually.

Early Expressionists include Vincent van Gogh, James Ensor and the iconic work, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. Expressionists used the distortion of form to convey the inner anxieties and emotions.

The classic Expressionist movement is considered to be from around 1905 to about 1920, but it began as a shift a few decades earlier.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch, an example of an expressionist painting Nazmiyal

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch, an example of an expressionist painting.

Artistic movements represent gradual transitions in creative thought, rather than a single pinpoint in time. The Expressionist movement did several things to redefine the creation and criticism of art. Artists no longer sought to capture an exact representation of an object in the visual world. There was no longer any way to judge the “accuracy” of the piece because it was an expression of the inner feelings that the object evoked at the time. The early Expressionist movement of the first part of the 20th century would eventually grow and evolve. It would never die out completely, and it is still alive and well today as contemporary artists attempt to bring a voice to the feelings of so many in society.

Early Expressionism would transform during the 1940’s and 1950’s, as the artists of the world tried to express the angst and fears of World War II and its aftermath. There was a tendency to go even further inward in the expression of deeply rooted feelings and emotions. Abstract Expressionists focused less on the final product and more on the act of creation. They would “attack” their canvas in an act of pure emotion, and by doing so, bring out their feelings and transfer them to the canvas. Abstract Expressionists would eventually allow New York to shine as the epicenter of modern art, a position that Paris France held for many decades prior.

Elaine de Kooning Bullfight Nazmiyal

“Bullfight” by Elaine de Kooning, a mid century abstract expressionist painting.

Expressionist Rugs and Carpet Weaving

As a medium, carpet weaving lends itself to an impressive range in the ability to capture emotion. With painting, you can see the heaviness of the brushstroke, the thickness of the paint and the passion of the stroke. Creating a pile carpet involves placing different colored knots on a warp according to a prescribed design. For this reason, carpet weaving is thought to be less expressive than painting, but this is not necessarily the case, as many artists continue to prove.

Synthetic Enlightenment by Faig Ahmed | Nazmiyal

“Synthetic Enlightenment”, a handmade wool carpet by Faig Ahmed, from his Flood collection.

The art of carpet weaving has tremendous potential for the expression of emotions. The first type of carpet that lends itself to this type of use are those where expressionist paintings are reproduced on area rugs. These area rug styles are closely linked to the original Abstract Expressionist painting. Modern tapestry and carpet dye techniques allow the painting to be reproduced accurately on the rug art. You can still see the brushstrokes and fine details, just as in the original painting. This gives the painting a new dimension. It is something that you can see and touch. You can also use it to add texture to the interior design.

Some modern artists are using carpet weaving as a new form of expression to bring life to new modern contemporary ideas and concepts. The work of Deborah Kass is one example. Her work uses a bold, graphic style and words to explore contemporary social movements. Christopher Farr is another artist who is taking the creation of pile carpets in a new and expressive direction.

The work of Jason Seife uses the medium of Persian carpets to express his feelings about the traditions of his people and his early childhood. Faig Ahmed also uses traditional rug weaving to express his feelings about his people and their struggles. These visionary artists demonstrate the versatility of rugs and carpets as a medium of Expressionist ideals.

Jason Seife Painting Nazmiyal

A hand painted image inspired by Persian carpets, by Jason Seife.

Expressionist art carpets are an excellent addition to modern decor, whether you choose a vintage rug or one based on traditional painting. A carpet is something that you can feel and touch. This allows you to explore artwork using a different sensory experience that goes beyond the visual, allowing you to immerse yourself within the work.

Nazmiyal Rugs has an excellent collection of Expressionist carpets that will give your interior a fresh, new look. You can use these carpets to bring out your own inner artist and make the room an expression of you. We encourage you to explore the different types of area rugs and find the perfect area rugs for you and your home.

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