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Early abstraction: Fauvism, Expressionism, and Cubism
Matisse, Kandinsky, Picasso all used abstraction to invent new systems of representation.
All content in “Early abstraction: Fauvism, Expressionism, and Cubism”

Fauvism and Matisse

Les Fauves (the wild beasts) used color the way most artists use line, to define form in space. From these brilliant early experiments, Henri Matisse went on to create some of the most daring and satisfying art of the early 20th century avant-garde.


Expressionism experiments in Germany were dominated by two groups of artists, Die Brücke (the Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter. Here find Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and the Russians, Wassily Kandinsky and Alexei von Jawlensky. Meanwhile in Vienna, Egon Schiele was exploring representations of the body with wild, restless energy.

Cubism and its impact

The Spaniard Picasso changed the way we see the world. He could draw with academic perfection at a very young age but he gave it up in order to create a language of representation suited to the modern world. Together with the French artist George Braque, Picasso undertook an analysis of form and vision that would inspire radical new visual forms across Europe and in America. This tutorial explains the underlying principles of Cubism and the abstract experiments that followed including Italian Futurism, Russian Suprematism, and the Dutch movement, de Stijl.