Art Term

Neo-expressionism

Neo-expressionism acted as a major revival of painting in an expressionist manner in the 1980s and it occurred internationally

Paula Rego, ‘Nanny, Small Bears and Bogeyman’ 1982
Paula Rego
Nanny, Small Bears and Bogeyman 1982
Tate
© Paula Rego
Philip Guston, ‘Black Sea’ 1977
Philip Guston
Black Sea 1977
Tate
© The Estate of Philip Guston
Georg Baselitz, ‘Adieu’ 1982
Georg Baselitz
Adieu 1982
Tate
© Georg Baselitz
Anselm Kiefer, ‘Lilith’ 1987–9
Anselm Kiefer
Lilith 1987–9
Tate
© Anselm Kiefer
Gerhard Richter, ‘Abstract Painting No. 439’ 1978
Gerhard Richter
Abstract Painting No. 439 1978
Tate
© Gerhard Richter
Sigmar Polke, ‘Untitled (Square 2)’ 2003
Sigmar Polke
Untitled (Square 2) 2003
Tate
© The estate of Sigmar Polke/ DACS 2017
David Salle, ‘High and Low’ 1994
David Salle
High and Low 1994
Tate
© David Salle/VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2017

It was seen as a reaction to the minimalism and conceptual art that had dominated the 1970s.

In the USA leading figures were Philip Guston and Julian Schnabel, and in Britain Christopher Le Brun and Paula Rego. There was a major development of neo-expressionism in Germany, as might be expected with its expressionist heritage, but also in Italy. In Germany the neo-expressionists became known as Neue Wilden (i.e. new Fauves). In Italy, neo-expressionist painting appeared under the banner of Transavanguardia (beyond the avant-garde). In France a group called Figuration Libre was formed in 1981 by Robert Combas, Remi Blanchard, Francois Boisrond and Herve de Rosa.