Saturday 16 January 2021

Media: Developing an Idea - Expressionist photography

 As I am working in both Art and Media classes and my project for Art is in Expressionism I have chosen to develop an idea using Expressionist photography for Media class. This will mean I will have a clear theme through both projects.

I began developing this by looking at Expressionist films of the 1920's as the idea of German expressionist photography was: 'art in which the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist's inner feelings or ideas.' (Tate 2021) 

Nosferatu (1922) was a seminal film of this era.  The film is loosely based on the book by Bram Stoker, Dracula.  The film uses light to create shadows that change in shape and size, also doorways and archways to frame the shots.  The sense of fear and anticipation of horror is palpable. In Sweden this film was banned for excessive horror, the ban was only lifted in 1972.  All known prints and negatives were destroyed of this film under a lawsuit by Bram Stoker's widow.  

The Cabinet of Dr Calgari used similar techniques however many of the sets were made of paper and the shadows painted on the walls.  This was because electricity was in short supply and rationed after World War One so often beams of light had to paint on the walls and using strange camera angles to create the effects that he wanted. The story is fairly simple hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders. The final look of the film is truly trange and teh charaters look fantastic on this strange set. 

I also want to discuss here the photographs of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner as I am studying Kirchner's work in painting for Art, it is important to also look at the images that he took.  He was an avid photographer, in fact the only Expressionist painter who really took an interest in photography - which makes him a perfect study for this as I am creating both paintings and photography in Expressionism. Thie photograph below is quite surreal with teh sculpture of the woman mirroring the real woman in the forefront of the image.

Nina Hard, nude in full figure, putting on make-up, 1921, photograph, 17 x 12.5 cm, unsigned, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,

Kirchner took thousands of photographs and I will explore these in much more detail in later posts.

In terms of devloping the ideas I think this is a good starting point to cosider how I can create Neo- Expresionist photographs.  


Tate (2021) Art Terms: Expressionism [Online] Available from: (Accessed 16/01/21)

Rima Shah Photography (n.d.) German Expressionism [Online] Available from: (Accessed 16/01/21)

IMBd (1990-2021) The Cabinet of Dr Calgari [Online] Available from: (Accessed 16/01/21)

IMBd (1990-2021) Nosferatu [Online] Available from: (Accessed 16/01/21)

Apollo Magazine () Kirchner: The Painter as Photographer [Online] Available from: (Accessed 16/01/21)

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