It was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
Its typical trait (quality) is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.
Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and James Ensor proved particularly influential to the Expressionists, encouraging the distortion of form and the deployment of strong colors to convey a variety of anxieties and yearnings.
Expressionist artists often employed swirling, swaying, and exaggeratedly executed brushstrokes in the depiction of their subjects. These techniques were meant to convey the turgid emotional state of the artist reacting to the anxieties of the modern world.
Through their confrontation(battle) with the urban world of the early twentieth century, Expressionist artists developed a powerful mode of social criticism in their serpentine (bending like) figural renderings and bold colors.
Their representations of the modern city included alienated individuals – a psychological by-product of recent urbanization – as well as prostitutes, who were used to comment on capitalism’s role in the emotional distancing of individuals within cities.