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Art Movement in Focus: Neo-Expressionism – An Introduction

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at Neo-Expressionism.

Neo Expressionism – An Introduction

Neo-Expressionism as a movement had its roots in Expressionism. It started in East Germany, the years following World War II. It was a time that saw a massive overhaul of thoughts and ideologies. Critic Edward Lucie-Smith noted that as a style Expressionism was a direct reaction to German Expressionists. That Neo-Expressionism was a return to the re-examining of the Expressionist style, but with a sense of rebellion. It was an attempt to examine the political climate of the society.

Notably, Neo Expressionists, unlike the other art movements presented a diverse set of works, with some common traits. They were tied together in their denunciation of traditional standards of composition and design. Another aspect was subtle but tended to make huge waves as the works displayed a fragile emotional tone, which was a reflection of the values of contemporary urban life.

There was a deliberate avoidance of pictorial idealization and there was an overpowering use of vivid but harsh commonplace colour harmonies. They were masters of depicting simultaneously tense and playful objects in a primitivist manner. This was an effective way to communicate a sense of inner disturbance and alienation that the post-war society was dealing with.  

OUR TOP 6 Neo Expressionists :

What bound the Neo-Expressionists together was that the artists were inspired by a wide range of ideas from art history to mythology and pop culture, all of which found their way into the creation of expressive works, charged with a personal narrative.

This unique amalgamation of art historical appropriation and emotive personal expression was intimately connected with the iconoclasm of the Neo-Expressionist movement.

  1. Jean Michel Basquiat
  2. Julian Schnabel
  3. David Salle
  4. Francesco Clemente
  5. Anselm Kiefer
  6. Georg Baselitz


Right from the start, Neo-Expressionism was problematized by virtue of it being an amalgamation of radical ideas, and this was reflected in their work. It was seen often as a transitional movement between modernism and post-modernism.

Jean Michel Basquiat
Pollo Frito

Pollo Frito 1982, Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
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Julian Schnabel
Marc Fran├žois Auboire

Marc Fran├žois Auboire 1988, Julian Schnabel (1951- till present)
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David Salle
Exit Weeping

Exit Weeping 1993, David Salle ( 1952- till present)
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Francesco Clemente

Alba 1997, Francesco Clemente (1952- till present) Image courtesy:

Anselm Kiefer
Des Herbstes Runengespinst

Des Herbstes Runengespinst 2006, Anslem Kiefer (1945 – till present)
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Georg Baselitz

Edvard 1987-88, Georg Baselitz (1938 – till present)
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For more such quick introductions and lists regarding Art History, visit Art Movement in Focus.

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