Cathy Moers asks whether Van Gogh was an expressionist. Have a look at the answer.
No, he wasn’t, but it’s easy to understand why the 20th-century expressionists called him their main forerunner. Just like this group of artists, Van Gogh used exaggeration in his works. But unlike his admirers, he always remained within the boundaries of the real world.
In Vincent’s own words: ‘I exaggerate, I sometimes make changes to the subject, but still I don’t invent the whole of the painting; on the contrary, I find it ready-made — but to be untangled — in the real world’. When creating an artwork, the expressionists attached particular importance to imagination and the subconscious, while Van Gogh viewed these matters with a certain distrust.
If you compare Vincent’s paintings with expressionist works, you can indeed recognise similarities in terms of colour and raw technique, but also fundamental differences. The art of Vincent’s German and French followers is virtually flat, while Van Gogh’s scenes contain perspective and a sense of space.