Neo-expressionism is a style of modern
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s and dominated the art market until the mid-1980s. Related to American Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction
Lyrical Abstraction is either of two related but distinctly separate trends in Post-war Modernist painting, and a third definition is the usage as a descriptive term. It is a descriptive term characterizing a type of abstract painting related to Abstract Expressionism; in use since the 1940s...

 of the 60s and 70s, Bay Area Figurative School
Bay Area Figurative School
The Bay Area Figurative Movement was a mid-20th Century art movement made up of a group of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area who abandoned working in the prevailing style of Abstract Expressionism in favor of a return to figuration in painting during...

 of the 50s and 60s, the continuation of Abstract Expressionism
Abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris...

, New Image Painting and precedents in Pop painting
Pop art
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art challenged tradition by asserting that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art...

, it developed as a reaction against the conceptual art
Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many of the works, sometimes called installations, of the artist Sol LeWitt may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions...

 and minimal art of the 1970s. Neo-expressionists returned to portraying recognizable objects, such as the human body (although sometimes in an abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 manner), in a rough and violently emotional way using vivid colours and banal colour harmonies.

Overtly inspired by the so-called German Expressionist painters--Emil Nolde
Emil Nolde
Emil Nolde was a German painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolour painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors...

, Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann was a German painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, and writer. Although he is classified as an Expressionist artist, he rejected both the term and the movement...

, George Grosz
George Grosz
Georg Ehrenfried Groß was a German artist known especially for his savagely caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s...

, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or "The Bridge", a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th century art. He volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a...

--and other expressionist artists such as James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

 and Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch was a Norwegian Symbolist painter, printmaker and an important forerunner of expressionist art. His best-known composition, The Scream, is part of a series The Frieze of Life, in which Munch explored the themes of love, fear, death, melancholia, and anxiety.- Childhood :Edvard Munch...

. Neo-expressionists were sometimes called Neue Wilden ('The new wild ones'; 'New Fauves' would better meet the meaning of the term). The style emerged internationally and was viewed by many critics such as Achille Bonito Oliva
Achille Bonito Oliva
Achille Bonito Oliva, is a recognized and respected Italian contemporary art critic, author of many essays on mannerism, and a professor of History of Contemporary Art at La Sapienza University in Rome...

 and Donald Kuspit
Donald Kuspit
Donald Kuspit is an American art critic, poet, and Distinguished Professor of art history and philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and professor of art history at the School of Visual Arts. Kuspit is one of America's most distinguished art critics. He was formerly the A....

 as a revival of traditional themes of self-expression in European art after decades of American dominance. The social and economic value of the movement was hotly debated.

Critics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Craig Owens, and Mira Schor
Mira Schor
Mira Schor is an American artist, writer, editor, and educator, known for her contributions to the critical discourse on the status of painting in contemporary art and culture as well as to feminist art history and criticism.-Early life and education:Mira Schor's parents Ilya and Resia Schor were...

 were highly critical of its relation to the marketability of painting on the rapidly expanding art market, celebrity, the backlash against feminism, anti-intellectualism, and a return to mythic subjects and individualist methods they deemed outmoded. Women were notoriously marginalized in the movement, and painters such as Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray may refer to:*Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Mansfield*Elizabeth Murray , American artist*Elizabeth Murray, wife of Edward Robbins and great-great grandmother to Franklin D. Roosevelt...

 and Maria Lassnig
Maria Lassnig
Maria Lassnig is an Austrian artist. Her paintings are an exploration of the body, a central theme which she calls "body awareness"....

 were omitted from many of its key exhibitions, most notoriously the 1981 "New Spirit in Painting" exhibition in London which included 38 male painters but no female painters.

Neo-expressionism around the world

  • Germany
    • Georg Baselitz
      Georg Baselitz
      Georg Baselitz is a German painter who studied in the former East Germany, before moving to what was then the country of West Germany...

    • Anselm Kiefer
      Anselm Kiefer
      Anselm Kiefer is a German painter and sculptor. He studied with Joseph Beuys and Peter Dreher during the 1970s. His works incorporate materials such as straw, ash, clay, lead, and shellac...

    • Jörg Immendorff
      Jörg Immendorff
      Jörg Immendorff was one of the best known contemporary German painters; he was also a sculptor, stage designer and art professor.- Life and work :...

    • A.R. Penck
    • Markus Lüpertz
      Markus Lüpertz
      Markus Lüpertz is a contemporary German painter and sculptor.In the 1960s, Lüpertz worked primarily in Berlin, moving on to take a professorship at Karlsruhe at the Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe in the 1970s, then to Düsseldorf where he was for over twenty years director of the Kunstakademie...

    • Rainer Fetting
      Rainer Fetting
      Rainer Fetting is a German painter and sculptor.Rainer Fetting was one of the co-founders and main protagonists of the Galerie am Moritzplatz in Berlin, founded in the late 1970s by a group of young artists from the class of Karl Horst Hödicke at the former Berliner Hochschule für Bildende...

    • Salomé
      Salomé (artist)
      Salomé is a famed German artist. His paintings are in renowned museums and collections all over the world. Salomé became known as one of the members of the art group Junge Wilde or Neue Wilde...

    • Elvira Bach
      Elvira Bach
      Elvira Bach is a postmodernist German painter known for her colourful images of women. A member of the Junge Wilde art movement, she lives and works in Berlin....

    • Peter Angermann
      Peter Angermann
      Peter Angermann is a German painter based in Nuremberg.-Education and Career:He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and was a student of Joseph Beuys....

  • United States
    • Ida Applebroog
      Ida Applebroog
      Ida Applebroog is a notable American painter. Her work is included in many public collections in the United States. During the decade of the 1990s, she received multiple honors including the College Art Association Distinguished Art Award for Lifetime Achievement, an Honorary Doctorate of Fine...

    • Leonard Baskin
      Leonard Baskin
      Leonard Baskin was an American sculptor, book-illustrator, wood-engraver, printmaker, graphic artist, writer and teacher.-Life and work:...

    • Philip Guston
      Philip Guston
      Philip Guston was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning...

    • Michael Hafftka
      Michael Hafftka
      Michael Hafftka is an American figurative expressionist painter living in New York City. Hafftka was born in Manhattan to Eva and Simon Hafftka, European refugees and Holocaust survivors. Raised in the Bronx, he attended public schools and experimented with several creative forms before he...

    • Ouattara Watts
      Ouattara Watts
      Ouattara Watts is an Ivorian painter.He was born in 1957, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.He studied in l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France....

    • Jean-Michel Basquiat
      Jean-Michel Basquiat
      Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist. His career in art began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s, and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting.-Early life:...

    • Joe Boudreau
      Joe Boudreau
      Joe Boudreau is an American artist.Born in Vincennes, Indiana, Boudreau moved with his family to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of seven. It was in Baltimore that he spent most of his formative years and where he resolved to be an artist...

    • Chuck Connelly
      Chuck Connelly
      Chuck Connelly is an American painter.-Biography:Connelly graduated from the Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania in 1977. After graduating Connelly moved from the Philadelphia area to New York City where Robert C...

    • Norris Embry
      Norris Embry
      Norris Embry was an American neo-expressionist artist born on January 14, 1921 in Louisville, Kentucky.He grew up in East Orange, New Jersey outside New York City and Evanston, Illinois in the Chicago area, attending public schools through high school. Later, he studied at St. John's College in...

    • Eric Fischl
      Eric Fischl
      Eric Fischl is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker.-Early life:Fischl was born in New York City and grew up on suburban Long Island; his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1967...

    • Leon Golub
      Leon Golub
      Leon Golub was an American painter. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he also studied, receiving his BA at the University of Chicago in 1942, his BFA and MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1949 and 1950, respectively.He was married to and collaborated with the artist Nancy Spero...

    • David Salle
      David Salle
      David Salle is an American painter who helped define postmodern sensibility by combining figuration with a varied pictorial language of multi-imagery...

    • Julian Schnabel
      Julian Schnabel
      Julian Schnabel is an American artist and filmmaker. In the 1980s, Schnabel received international media attention for his "plate paintings"—large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates....

    • Elizabeth Murray
      Elizabeth Murray (artist)
      Elizabeth Murray was an American painter, printmaker and draughtsman. Her works are in many major public collections, including those of the Solomon R...

    • Malcolm Morley
      Malcolm Morley
      Malcolm Morley is an English artist now living in the United States. He is best known as a photorealist.-Early life:Morley was born in north London. He had a troubled childhood, and did not discover art until serving a three-year stint in Wormwood Scrubs prison...

    • Robert Colescott
      Robert Colescott
      Robert H. Colescott, was an American painter. He is known for satirical genre and crowd subjects, often conveying his exuberant, comical, or bitter reflections on being African-American. He studied with Fernand Léger in Paris...

    • Ursula van Rydingsvard
  • Austria
    • Maria Lassnig
      Maria Lassnig
      Maria Lassnig is an Austrian artist. Her paintings are an exploration of the body, a central theme which she calls "body awareness"....

  • France

    • Raphael Labro
    • Rémi Blanchard
    • François Boisrond
    • Robert Combas
      Robert Combas
      Robert Combas is a French painter and sculptor, born May 25, 1957 in Lyon, France and now living and working in Paris.He is widely recognized as a progenitor of the figuration libre movement that began in Paris around 1980 as a reaction to the art establishment in general and minimalism and...

    • Hervé Di Rosa
      Hervé Di Rosa
      Hervé Di Rosa is a French painter.Born in Sète, France, Hervé Di Rosa is a French painter who brings to life the unique characters who populate his work through the making of paintings, sculptures, installations, animation movies, editions, portraying these unique individuals. In America we had...

  • Italy

    • Francesco Clemente
      Francesco Clemente
      Francesco Clemente is an Italian and American contemporary artist. Influenced by thinkers as diverse as Gregory Bateson, William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, and J Krishnamurti, the art of Francesco Clemente is inclusive and nomadic, crossing many borders, intellectual and geographical.Dividing his time...

    • Sandro Chia
      Sandro Chia
      Sandro Chia is an Italian painter and sculptor.A native of Florence, he was a key member of the Italian Transavanguardia movement, along with fellow countrymen Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino, Nicola De Maria, and Enzo Cucchi....

    • Enzo Cucchi
      Enzo Cucchi
      Enzo Cucchi is an Italian painter. A native of Morro d'Alba, province of Ancona, he was a key member of the Italian Transavanguardia movement, along with fellow countrymen Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino, Nicola De Maria, and Sandro Chia...

    • Mimmo Paladino
      Mimmo Paladino
      Mimmo Paladino is an Italian sculptor, painter and printmaker.-Paintings and drawing:Mimmo Paladino was born Domenico Paladino in Paduli, Campania, southern Italy...

  • United Kingdom
    • David Hockney
      David Hockney
      David Hockney, CH, RA, is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer, who is based in Bridlington, Yorkshire and Kensington, London....

    • Frank Auerbach
      Frank Auerbach
      Frank Helmut Auerbach is a painter born in Germany although he has been a naturalised British citizen since 1947.-Biography:Auerbach was born in Berlin, the son of Max Auerbach, a patent lawyer, and Charlotte Nora Burchardt, who had trained as an artist...

    • Leon Kossoff
      Leon Kossoff
      Leon Kossoff is a British expressionist painter, known for portraits, life drawings and cityscapes of London, England....

  • Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    • Ahmed Al Safi
      Ahmed Al Safi
      Ahmed Al Safi , was born in Al Diwaniyah, Iraq in 1971.Al Safi studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy in Baghdad.He won the Ismail Fatah Al Turk Prize for young sculptors in 2000....

  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    • Marlene Dumas
      Marlene Dumas
      Marlene Dumas is a South African born artist and painter who lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Stressing both the physical reality of the human body and its psychological value, Dumas tends...

  • Spain
    • Miquel Barceló
      Miquel Barcelo
      Miquel Barceló is a Spanish painter from Felanitx, Majorca.-Career:After having studied at the Arts and Crafts School of Palma for two years, he enrolled at the Fine Arts School of Barcelona in 1974. A year later he returned to Mallorca to participate in the happenings and actions of protest of...

  • Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

    • Pedro Sandoval
      Pedro Sandoval
      Pedro Sandoval , artist, is one of the leading exponents of current Abstract Neo-expressionism.- Biography :Pedro Sandoval was born in Venezuela in 1966. He was a precocious artist, winning when he was 6 years old the award "Young Master of the World" at Osaka...

  • Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    • Julio Galán
      Julio Galán
      Julio Galán was a Mexican artist and architect.- Biography :Galán was one of Latin America's renowned neo-expressionist painters of the end of the last century and the beginning of this one.. His paintings and collages are full of elements that usually represent his life.Galán started his career...

  • Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    • Pablo Carreno
      Pablo Carreno
      Pablo Carreno is an Expressionist artist who was born in 1941 and raised in Havana, Cuba. He emigrated to the United States of America in 1964.-Biography:Pablo Carreno speaks little of his childhood save for his own obsession with drawing and painting...

  • Slovenia
    Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

    • Jože Tisnikar
  • Denmark
    • Anette Abrahamsson
    • Peter Bonde
      Peter Bonde
      Peter Bonde is a former Danish footballer and is currently the assistant manager of the Danish national team.-External links:* at the Danish FA...

    • Peter Carlsen
    • Claus Carstensen
    • Kristian Dahlgård Larsen
    • Dorte Dahlin
    • Berit Jensen
    • Søren Jensen
    • Steen Krarup
    • Kehnet Nielsen
    • Jens Nørregård
    • Nina Sten-Knudsen
  • Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

    • Goran Špoljarević
  • Australia
    • Davida Allen
      Davida Allen
      Davida Frances Allen , is an Australian painter, film maker and writer.-Career:Allen studied under Betty Churcher at the Stuartholme School, Brisbane and later under Roy Churcher at Brisbane Central Technical College...

    • Peter Booth
      Peter Booth
      Peter Booth is an Australian figurative and a surrealist painter, and one of the key late-20th century Australian artists. His work is characterised by an intense emotional power of often dark narratives, and esoteric symbolism.-Life:Born the son of a steelworker, the industrial surrounds of...

    • Kevin Connor
      Kevin Connor (artist)
      Kevin Connor , Australian artist who won the Archibald Prize twice; in 1975 for The Hon Sir Frank Kitto, KBE, and in 1977 for Robert Klippel. He won the Sulman Prize in 1991/92 with Najaf June 1991 and again in 1997 with The Man with itchy fingers and other figures Gare du Nord .He won a Harkness...

    • Jan Senbergs
    • Brett Whiteley
      Brett Whiteley
      Brett Whiteley, AO was an Australian artist. He is represented in the collections of all the large Australian galleries, and was twice winner of the Archibald Prize...

Suggested reading

Buchloh, Benjamin. "Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting." October 16 (Spring 1981): 39–68.

Curley, Mallory. A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia. Randy Press, 2010.

Foster, Hal, "The Expressive Fallacy," Art in America 71 (January 1983): 80-83, 137.

Kuspit, Donald. "Flak from the ‘Radicals’: The American Case Against Current German Painting," in Jack Cowart, ed., Expressions: New Art from Germany. St. Louis: St. Louis Art Museum, 1983.

Kuspit, Donald, A Critical History of 20th Century Art, chapters 8 and 9., 2006,

Lawson, Thomas. "Last Exit: Painting." Artforum 20, no. 2 (October 1981): 40–47.

A New Spirit in Painting. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1981.

Oliva, Achille Bonito, The International Trans-avantgarde. Milan: Giancarlo Politi, 1982.

Owens, Craig, "Honor, Power, and the Love of Women," Art in America 71 (January 1983): 7-13.

Schor, Mira, "Appropriating Sexuality," M/E/A/N/I/N/G 1 (December 1986).

External links

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