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European & American Art Cubism, Expressionism & Suprematism

The early twentieth century saw the emergence of two groundbreaking movements—Cubism and Expressionism. From 1906–07 Cubist artists developed a new pictorial language in which they aimed to depict an object from multiple views, without the use of one point perspective. Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and others abandoned naturalism for a conceptual way of representing the world. Influenced by the art of Africa, the Pacific and elsewhere, they also simplified their imagery. The mask made by Picasso, for example, is constructed from discarded packaging and other studio detritus.

Expressionism emerged in Germany with the formation of the Brücke [Bridge] in Dresden in 1905. A group of young dependant artists, including E.L. Kirchner and Erich Heckel, attempted to create a bridge between art and life. The Expressionists, as they became known, opposed established traditions and believed that art could transform the future. They sought an immediacy of expression, above all else. The rough, elemental and hand-made qualities of their work combined to produce a direct depiction of raw expression in radical opposition to the classical academic art of the time.

Another significant artistic development of the early twentieth century was Constructivism. This movement began in Russia following the October Revolution in 1917 and was adopted by many European artists throughout the 1920s. Constructivist artists sought to reclaim abstract forms for a new social purpose and practical use. The style was applied across various artistic mediums including painting, sculpture, design, photography, printmaking and the performing arts.