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Violence and Defiance

With their avant-garde style and rejection of artistic traditions, a new generation of rebel-artists known as the Expressionists came to prominence during the early 20th century. This was the time of empires and colonies, air raids and allied forces, nationalism and revolution that was particularly tumultuous in Germany and neighboring Austria—countries closely connected during the First World War (1914–1918) and the rise of the Nazi Party (1920–1945).

Labeled as “degenerates,” many of the Expressionists were drafted or otherwise affected by war. To express their personal reactions to the atrocities they experienced, they turned to boldly simplified line work, distorted forms, or clashing colors. Above all, they heralded printmaking—a quick, inexpensive medium rife with creative potential—as the premier form of artistic rebellion.

From lithographic posters to book illustration, this Focus Installation exhibition encapsulates the violence and defiance of European modernism through works from the Dallas Museum of Art’s permanent collection as well as works from Dr. Alessandra Comini’s generous gift to the Museum in 2018 and 2019.

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