Expressionism and the Epic Theater in early twentieth-century German stage design

The Expressionist ethos

Authored by: Mel Gordon

The Routledge Companion to Scenography

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138917804
eBook ISBN: 9781315688817
Adobe ISBN:


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When German critics employed the word Expressionismus during the years 1910–1911, it had already acquired an elusive – and often contrary – set of definitions and characteristics. For the most part, it denoted a kind of primitive anti-rational, post-Romantic, non-Realistic creation. Various graphic artists, writers, philosophers, playwrights, and dancers from Central Europe began to label their work “Expressionist.” Without a center or an adjudicating leader, without any authoritative pronouncements or clearly stated manifestos, now a trend, rather than a movement, was growing up around the term.

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