Similarities of Expressionism and Impressionism Art And Their Differences

Showing on Impressionism painting b Claude Monet and The Scream by Edvard Munch to show difference in Impressionism and Expressionism Art

The similarities and differences in Expressionism and impressionism art movements can sometimes be confusing. Many people think they are the same art movement, but they are actually quite different.

The Impressionism and Expressionism art movements started in Europe, but the impressionism movement started before the Expression art movement. Each movement has different looks of art which are distinguishable from each other. Even though they are both different art movements, there are still some similarities between them.

Ballet Dancers getting ready to dance a lesson
The Dance Lesson, By Edgar Degas 1879 (Impressionism)

Main Similarities Between The Expressionism And Impressionism Art Movements

Even though the Expressionism and Impressionism art movements are two different art movements, they also have some similarities.

Here are some of the major similarities of the Impressionism and Expressionism Art Movements:

  • Both the Impressionism and Expressionism Art Movements started in Europe. Impressionism started in France, and Expressionism in Germany and Austria.
  • Both the Impressionism and Expressionism Art Movements were a reaction to something that was happening outside of art. Impressionism was a reaction to rapidly changing urban environments. Expressionism was a reaction to the dehumanizing effects of industrialization.
  • Both art movements received their names from a painting. The Impressionism art movement received its name from Claude Monet’s painting called Impressionism, Soleil levant (Impressionism, Sunrise). The term Expressionism received its name from a painting by Julien-Auguste Herve’ called Expressionismes (1901).
  • Both art movements were a rejection from previous art movements. The Impressionism painting style was a rejection of the traditional Realist style. Expressionism was in reaction to Positivism, Naturalism, and even impressionism art movements.
  • Both art movements emerged as a rejection of realism and naturalism in art; in other words, they both rejected art as merely copying what was out in the world in a realistic way.
Dark blue sky with stars in it,
The Starry Night By Vincent Van Gogh 1889 (Expressionism)

Main Differences Between Impressionism and Expressionism Art Movements

Even though there are some similarities between the Impressionism and Expressionism art movements, they also have some differences. To really understand the similarities, it is also good to understand some of their important differences.

Here are some of the differences between the Impressionism and Expressionism art movements.

Soft painting for a sky and land
Impressionism Soleil Levant By Claude Monet (Impressionism)

Impressionism

Here are some of the major qualities and facts of the Impressionism Art Movement:

  • Impressionism is an art movement that started in Paris in the late 18th Century.
  • The Impressionist artists paid special attention to depicting the impression of light and the change effects of light. For the impressionist artist, the capturing of the light is extremely important.
  • Because the light and changing qualities of light were so important to impressionist painting, many impressionist artists painted outdoors.
  • Impressionism was an art movement that was a reaction to the rapidly changing urban environments.
  • The Impressionism art movement made a break from the traditions in European painting.
  • At first, Impressionism art was highly criticized by the other conventional artist in France. Later impressionism did become highly admired and loved.
  • The Impressionism art movement derived its name from Claude Monet’s painting called Impressionism, Soleil levant (Impressionism, Sunrise).
  • Impressionism painting is more of a spontaneous painting; the artist attempts to capture the light in a scene.
  • Impressionists would experiment with color to react to different colors and tones; they did not mix the colors as much as they would use the vibrant colors directly on the canvas.
  • The Impressionist brushstroke was a spontaneous and broad brush stroke; many times, they use the painting knife.
  • The Impressionist brushstroke was a spontaneous and broad brush stroke; many times, they use the painting knife.
  • Many of the Impressionism paintings had unusual visual angles that had not used been used before in paintings; the visual angle of the subject matter was important.
  • The Impressionism painting style was a rejection of the traditional realist style.
Man screaming on pier in bright colors
The Scream By Edvard Munch, 1893 (Expressionism)

Expressionism

Here are some of the major qualities and facts of the Expressionism Art Movement:

  • The Expressionism art movement emerged in the early 20th century in Germany and Austria.
  • Expressionism came after the Impressionism movement.
  • Expressionism art paid special attention to the artist’s personal or inner arousal and how that affected their art.
  • Expressionism was the result of what the artists saw as the dehumanizing effects of industrialization.
  • In Expressionism art, the artist attempted to pick the emotions and responses of that events and objects that aroused something in him or her; this art movement was not about objective reality.
  • Expressionism was in reaction to Positivism, Naturalism, and even Impressionism art movements.
  • The term Expressionism came from a painting by Julien-Auguste Herve’ called Expressionismes (1901).
  • Expressionism paintings show a lot of emotion and are often described as showing a touch of the human dark side.
  • Many artists incorporated fantasy and violence in their subject matter to show extreme emotions.
  • The paintings show the world from a purely subjective perspective and distort the subject matter for emotional effect; the artist wants to evoke moods or ideas in the viewer’s minds.
  • The artist used colors that were subjective, meaning they had no relation to the actual color of the object. (For example, a face could be green and the sky orange).
Red Water Lilles in a pond
Water Lilles Red By Claude Monet 1919 (Impressionism)

Top 10 Impressionism Artists – Our Picks

There are many great Impressionism artists to choose from so we had a hard time to decide our top 10 picks.

Here are our picks for the top 10 Impressionism artists:

  1. Claude Monte (1840-1926) – Claude Monte is arguably one of the most important impressionist artists. In fact, it was his art piece that led to the naming of this entire art movement.
  2. Edouard Mante (1832-1883) – Most of Mante’s impressionism work consisted of Parisian life. One of his favorite things to paint was female nudes and everyday life in Paris. He also painted his sister-in-law Berthe Morisot; you can read more about their relationship by reading our blog Berthe Morisot and the Manet Brothers – Love And Impressionist Art by clicking here.
  3. Pierre- August Renoir (1841-1919) – Of all the impressionist artists, Renoir’s work is considered some of the most traditional kinds of impressionism. His work has a softness to it and sensuality; this is because Renoir had a special eye for beauty and an innate skill with colors.
  4. Edgar Degas (1834-1917) – Degas painted mainly parts of Parisian life. He also painted many human bodies, in particular females, including dancers, singers, and prostitutes. He preferred not to be called an Impressionist artist but instead an independent. 
  5. Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) – Gustave Caillebotte was a French painter who tended to paint more realistic scenes than other Impressionists, but he is still considered a key Impressionism painter.
  6. Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895) – One of the female impressionist artists, Berthe Morisot, was extremely talented; she was married to Edgar Degas’s brother Eugene. Her work has a softer, almost most romantic feel to it. You can read more about her by reading 7 Women Impressionist Artists, To Admire, Know and Remember by clicking here.
  7. Camille Pissaro (1830-1903) – Camille Pissaro is one of the Impressionism painters who is also considered to be a key post-impressionism painter
  8. Marie Bracquemond (1840-1916) – Marie Bracquemond is considered one of the important female Impressionism artists. You can learn more about her fascinating life by reading. You can read more about her by reading 7 Women Impressionist Artists, To Admire, Know and Remember by clicking here.
  9. Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) – Mary Cassatt is one of the American’s in the group who becomes an important Impressionism artist. She spent much of her adult life in France. You can read more about her by reading 7 Women Impressionist Artists, To Admire, Know and Remember by clicking here.
  10. Frederic Bazille (1841 – 1870) – A lot of Frederic Bazille’s work is figure painting, he would place the subject within a landscape that is painted en Plein air.
A Vampire in bright colors
Vampire by Edvard Munch, 1916 (Expressionism)

Here are the top 10 Expressionism Artists – Our Picks

Like the Impressionism there are many great Expressionism artists to also pick from, so also had a hard time to pick out our 10 ten picks.

Here are our picks for the top 10 Expressionism artists:

  1. Vincent Van Gogh – (1853-1890) No doubt Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most well-known Expressionism artists. He is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of modern Western Art.
  2. Edvard Munch – (1863-1944) – Edvard Munch painted The Scream, which has become one of the most iconic and well-known artworks. They scream, and his other paintings show a very distinctive style.
  3. Francis Bacon – (1909 – 1992) Like many other artists, Francis Bacon is known to have painted in several art movements, including Cubism, Surrealism, and Expressionism.
  4. Paul Klee – (1879 – 1940) – Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism influenced Paul Klee’s art. His work is known to reflect his dry humor, personal moods, and sometimes childlike perspective.
  5. Wassily Kandinsky – (1866-1944) – Kandinsky is generally known as the pioneer of Abstract Art, but he was also actively involved in the German Expressionism and Expressionism art movements.
  6. Ernest Ludwig Kirchner – (1880 – 1938) – Was also a German Expressionist painter and printmaker. His work was branded as “degenerate” by the Nazis in 1933, so much of his work was destroyed or sold.
  7. August Robert Ludwig Macke (1887 – 1914) – August Robert Ludwig Macke was part of the German Expressionism group. He was also known to be very interested in the avant-garde movement. Unfortunately, he did not live very long as he died during World War 1.
  8. Egon Schiele – (1890 – 1918) – Egon Schiele is well known for his intense and raw sexuality. He painted a lot of self-portraits, including naked self-portraits.
  9. Franz Marc – (1880-1916) Franz Marc was one of the German expressionist art movement’s key figures. He painted a lot of animals. We served in the German Army in World War 1 and died very early.
  10. Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938) – Marianne von Werefkin is not as well known as some of the other painters, but she produced some fabulous work, including a self-portrait. Her work showed some influence with Edvard Munch’s style.

When you look at the Expressionism and Impressionism art movements, you can understand with their similarities why there can be some confusion between the two movements, But upon closer examination, you will find that the two art movements are very different; the Expressionism and Impressionism art movements started at different times, have different artistic looks and different artists involved in each movement.

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Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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