German Expressionism and the War Poster in the West


“The expressionist revolution was influenced by the discovery in the West of Japanese wood engravings, the revival of populist nationalism, the Jugendstil, and a certain civic-mindedness.  Expressionism—which was symbolic, emotional, sometimes violent, and always non-realistic—had a particular impact on film poster, for example the 1919 poster for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [by Stahl-Arpke]It also greatly affected posters created during and immediately after the First World War.”

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was heavily influenced by painters such as Gaugin, Van Gogh, Munch, and Klimt.  He created complex posters for theatre productions and literary novels, geared towards the elite educated class.

However, he also made wartime posters (such as Neider mit dem Bolschewismus, 1919).  Wartime posters were specific to the style popular in the countries they were made.  Thus, in France and The United States they were realistic.



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