South African modernism was greatly influenced by the expressionist painters Irma Stern and Maggie Laubser. Irma Stern, in particular, sedulously fought against the intractable resistance of her peers to new ideas and is commonly considered the pioneer of South African modernism. To understand the problems that Stern and Laubser faced in pursuing their expressionist ideals, it is vital to start with a description of the South African art scene at the beginning of the twentieth century. In South Africa, Stern’s legitimization through her European success even caused local newspapers to reproduce word-for-word translations of her German critiques. In contrast to Stern, however, Laubser denied any influence by Schmidt-Rottluff or any other artist, as her autonomy was especially important to her. Laubser, too, was very much influenced by the Christian faith—Christian Science, to be exact—but also the natural environment of her parents’ farm, Oortmanspost.
This chapter aims to provide a critical contribution to the discourse. It introduces the influences of the expressionist movement on the cultural milieu of the Latin American countries. The chapter describes the types of connections that enabled and determined the processes of appropriation of the movement’s principles and values in the region. It explores the contribution of expressionism to the creation of a local discourse regarding social problems and aspects of modernity specific to Latin America. In Latin America, expressionist tendencies developed in architecture, painting, sculpture, and engraving, but these also extended to literature, theatre, dance, music, and film. Cities like Paris, Berlin, and Madrid were cultural and historical landmarks for Latin American artists; painters traveled with the aim of improving their training and then, upon their return, contributing to local artistic environments. The chapter provides some problems for further debate and analysis of transatlantic expressionism.
"Defines Expressionism as the distortion of form and color for emotional interpretation. It defines Abstraction as seeking to reduce solid objects to the flat plane surface. Students contrast Mondrian's highly intellectual approach with Kandinsky's emotionalized abstractions." 25 min
"The Break with Tradition introduces students to the origins of modern art. Explains one of the most revolutionary aspects of Impressionists painting-its use of color-as seen in the works of Monet, Pissarro and Renoir." 33 min