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Book review: Andrei Pop on Kimberly A. Smith, ed., The Expressionist Turn in Art History

17 February 2015

The Pinch of Expressionism in Art History

Review of:

Kimberly A. Smith, ed., The Expressionist Turn in Art History, Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2014, 374 pp., 35 ill. b/w, £75.00, ISBN: 978-1-4094-4999-7

Andrei Pop 13/AP1


A useful if strangely hybrid collection of writings in translation by allegedly expressionist art historians, together with introductory historical essays by young as well as established (Hans Aurenhammer, Charles Haxthausen) art historiographers. The translated texts vary in quality, familiarity, and interest, and while on the whole they are judiciously chosen, the same cannot be said of the list of protagonists, which leans unfortunately toward a German-nationalist, tendentiously political expressionism unfair both to artists like Beckmann or Klee and to the more interesting art historians who engaged with expressionism. Interestingly, the contingency of these choices, and the imperfect match between even the chosen historians and expressionism as an artistic movement, are clearly seen and duly noted by editor Kimberly Smith and several of the contemporary authors. Some suggestions are thus made about how such an attention to expressionist historiography could be extended.

Keywords: nationalism, expressionism, Germany, formalism, Wölfflin, Worringer, Vienna School

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