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Tuesday, Sep 21, 2004

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Express yourself

Starting this week, this column will deal with art in all its forms from the sacred to the profane



`The Scream': Edvard Munch

WHO SAYS art is for artists? The highest art, always finds expression in popular culture. And talk of expression brings to mind Expressionism, one of the main currents of art in the late 19th and 20th Century. The Artcyclopedia places Expressionism between 1905 and 1940 and defines it as "a style of art in which the intention is not to reproduce a subject accurately, but instead to portray it in such a way as to express the inner state of the artist." Drawing from Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism, Expressionist paintings are characterised by distortion, exaggeration, primitivism and fantasy. The paintings are vivid and violently bring together the formal elements. Abstract Expressionism where there is no subject and only form was very influential in the mid-twentieth century.

The Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch, whose painting The Scream (1893) was stolen last month from Oslo, is considered the founder of the Expressionist School. The painting with the screaming figure on the bridge has been hailed as emblematic of the angst ridden modern man.

After Mona Lisa, the figure has been voted the most popular icon finding its way on to tee shirts, mugs, mouse pads and even inflatable dolls! And if you look at Gerald Scarfe's animation for Pink Floyd's The Wall, you know where the faces of the children going into the mincer comes from. From pure art to rock videos, Expressionism has come a long way!

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