The term "Expressionism" is used to describe a form of art which is meant to express emotion. The idea for expressionism originated in the late nineteenth century. During this time artists such as Vincent Van Gogh , Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, and Edvard Munch used violent colors and exaggerated lines to obtain intense emotional expression. These men inspired the artists that would later be called expressionists. There are two main groups of expressionists--- the French expressionists, also called Fauves, and the German expressionists.
French expressionism began in 1905. Several French artists were greatly impacted when a series of exhibitions of the works of Van Gogh, and Cezanne ran from 1901 to 1906. This was the first time that the works of these artists had been widely available for public viewing. In 1905, a group of young artists held an exhibit.
which so shocked the conservative critic Louis Vauxcelles that he called them "Fauves," or "wild beasts." Rather than take umbrage at this title, the artists embraced it with pride. The Fauves created a new style " full of the violent color of Van Gogh and the bold distortions of Gauguin, which they manipulated freely for pictorial and expressive effects" (Janson 771). Two of the Fauves, Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault, stand out.
Matisse was the leader of the Fauves and the oldest member. He sought to express emotion, but not through facial expressions. Instead he used the whole arrangement of figures, objects, spaces, proportions, and colors to achieve an emotional effect. His painting The Joy of Life is one of the best examples of what the Fauves intended to do. This painting was radically simple. Matisse left out as much as possible or used indirect depictions. According to History of Art, " It derives flat plane of color, the heavy undulating outlines, and the "primitive" flavor of its forms from Gauguin" (Janson 771). Matisse's view of art was contrasted by that of Rouault.