Modern Interpretations of Expressionism in Art

This week, one of the most exciting art exhibitions of 2024 opens at the Tate Modern in London, and to say we’re excited is an understatement.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and The Blue Rider brings together over 130 masterpieces from the greatest artists in the Expressionist Movement, marking the first time these artworks have been together in the UK for over 60 years.  

To honour the occasion, we’re diving into the world of Expressionist Art to learn about its beginnings, biggest names, and what defines the genre. We’re also taking a look at some of Enter Gallery’s artists who’ve drawn inspiration from the colour and philosophy of this pioneering movement. 

Franz Marc Tiger (detail) 1912.

The Blue Rider

This landmark exhibition is a showcase of paintings, sculpture, photography, performance and sound created by The Blue Rider – a group of German Expressionist artists founded in Munich in 1911 by Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky.

This circle of collaborators and friends came together to form, in their own words, ‘a union of various countries to serve one purpose’, namely, to transform the face of modern art.

Wassily Kandinsky, Cossacks 1910-1


This Tate Modern show celebrates the friendships that existed between this group of likeminded but wildly individual creatives, who supported each other to push boundaries, and to experiment with colour, sound and light in their mission to create bold and vibrant art.   

Visitors to the exhibition will experience works by celebrated artists like Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc and Paul Klee, as well as previously overlooked figures like Maria Franck-Marc and Marianne Werefkin.


The Dancer, Alexander Sakharoff 1909 by Marianne Werefkin

What is Expressionist Art?

Expressionist Art rose to prominence during a time when the world was changing fast. The German artists that birthed the movement were driven by a desire to leave behind the techniques and styles of the artists that came before them. Instead, they wanted to move forward to a place of individual expression, where emotions and viewpoints informed everything that was cast on the canvas.

Expressionist works are therefore defined by intense colours, distorted forms, vigorous brushstrokes and exaggerated lines, used to represent the emotions and inner perspective of the artist.


Portrait of Marianne von Werefkin, 1909 by Gabriele Münter.

The impact of this ground-breaking era in art history is still resonating today, with many contemporary artists drawing inspiration from the Expressionists’ brave and honest approach to creating art.

Let’s take a look at how some of Enter Gallery’s artists have been inspired by the outlook and approach of the movement...

Boo Saville
Contemporary artist, Boo Saville, first made a name for herself creating highly-detailed figurative artworks. However, upon the death of her Mother, Saville describes being struck by such desperate grief that it transformed the way she saw the world. She explains:

“As I walked around it was a bit like being on ecstasy, as though all the love and emotion I felt for my mum was somehow being reabsorbed. It was really important when planning her funeral that everything was beautiful. This experience stimulated a new relationship with colour.”


Echoing the Expressionists, nowadays, Saville is known for artworks that explore the relationship between colour and emotion. Her works are so seamlessly blended, they can almost appear as though constantly moving and shifting… just like our moods.


Saville’s artistic practice is driven by the emotions she’s feeling when she arrives in her studio to paint. She has also spoken about enjoying the idea of the observer projecting their own thoughts, feelings and lives onto her work.

View artworks by Boo Saville.

Caroline Chinakwe
Caroline Chinakwe may be a digital artist, but she is also a prime example of a contemporary British artist whose work embraces the philosophies of Expressionism.

From the minute Chinakwe discovered her medium, she has been inspired to create vibrant portraits that represent her innermost emotions, and her reactions to the world around us.


This personal expression is even mirrored in the titles of her works, such as one of her most popular pieces, Let Go of Your Past, which she created when transitioning from working in fashion to becoming an artist. Chinakwe explains:  

“As a black female artist, my work is inspired by my personal experiences and the world around me. My debut collection is called This Is Me because it was literally me on a canvas. The series encapsulates who I was and what I was experiencing throughout the year I worked on it.”



View artworks by Caroline Chinakwe.

Bonnie and Clyde
Another element of Expressionism that we see reflected in the work of Brighton-artist Bonnie and Clyde is the idea of distorting images of reality to make them more expressive of the artist’s ideas and inner feelings.

Across her oeuvre, Bonnie and Clyde combines her own photography of real people and places with paint and collage to create new realties. This use of imagery captured on her travels infuses her artworks with a sense that we're seeing the world through her eyes.

While her images may not be as warped as those of the Expressionists, or created from colours that represent an anguished emotional state, each piece captures her unique perspective on the world. She reveals:  

 “Living in the now is something I’m trying to be better at. There’s a lot of power that comes from being aware of how you’re feeling in the present and trying not to dwell in the past. You create your life and art from the now, so this is where I want to live and spend more time. All my work is based around this idea – the idea of capturing the moment.”

View artworks by Bonnie and Clyde.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and The Blue Rider is on at the Tate Modern from April 25th - 20th October 2024.