Expressionist style in modern and contemporary art had its beginnings in the late nineteenth century in the art of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Its first major manifestation in the twentieth century is found during the first decade in the works of the German Expressionists and the French Fauves. It is the only style that has continued uninterrupted throughout the history of modern and contemporary art. It has significant renewals after World War II and in the 1980s with the advent of Neo-Expressionism.
Expressionist style is representational; it visualizes recognizable figures, objects, and settings. However, unlike realist approaches to form, expressionist style exaggerates color and distorts natural shapes to achieve heightened emotional intensity. In theory, it makes visible the emotional responses of the artist to his or her subject. It also has the ideal aim of recreating the artist's state of mind in the viewer.