Wassily Kandinsky. Reiter (Lyrishes), 1911. Museum Bojimans van Beuningen, Rotterdam


German Expressionism

  • Begins: Monday 13 September 2021
    Until: Monday 11 October 2021
  • Lettsom House, First Floor, 11 Chandos Street, London W1G 9EB (NB: There is no lift in this building)
  • Lecturer: Dr Niccola Shearman

‘We are standing at the threshold of one of the greatest epochs that mankind has ever experienced – the epoch of the great spirituality’. Wassily Kandinsky, 1911

Members of the famous Blue Rider group saw their art as an instrument for spiritual renewal. For another band of youthful artists – The Bridge – the necessary change required urgent commitment to physical freedoms, exercised in art as in life. Examining the radiant colour, dynamic rhythms and varied themes of expressionist art from its Utopian beginnings around 1905 until its eclipse after war and revolution, this course provides a thorough introduction to the core principles and key figures of the movement in Germany and in Austria. Artists, ideas and multiple art forms include: the nude and the image of the ‘exotic other’ in the work of E.L. Kirchner and associates; pioneering women from Kӓthe Kollwitz to Marianne Werefkin; graphic arts and periodicals; psycho-sexual exposures from Oskar Kokokscha and Egon Schiele; Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘gospel of expressionism’; early Bauhaus and expressionist cinema.

Week 1. Visions of Utopia in art of Die Brϋcke and der Blaue Reiter

Week 2. Harmony and chaos: rural retreat and big-city thrills  

Week 3. Vienna: dreaming youths, exquisite façades and ugly truths

Week 4. Shattered Visions: German artists and the First World War

Week 5. Castles in the Air: Expressionism’s last high after 1918


Dr Niccola Shearman is a lecturer in twentieth-century German and Austrian art. She has held posts at the University of Manchester and The Courtauld, where she completed a PhD on the modernist woodcut in Germany and where she contributes regularly to public courses and study tours. Academic articles reflect research interests in print histories and the psychology of vision, and she also publishes regular book reviews and translations.

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