Illustrated Architecture Dictionary ................. Styles of Architecture

Expressionist Architecture / Neo-Expressionism


Expressionist Architecture
Wikipedia: Expressionist Architecture
(online May 2016)

Expressionist architecture was an architectural movement that developed in Europe during the first decades of the 20th century in parallel with the expressionist visual and performing arts that especially developed and dominated in Germany.

The term "Expressionist architecture" initially described the activity of the German, Dutch, Austrian, Czech and Danish avant garde from 1910 until 1930. Subsequent redefinitions extended the term backwards to 1905 and also widened it to encompass the rest of Europe.

Today the meaning has broadened even further to refer to architecture of any date or location that exhibits some of the qualities of the original movement such as: distortion, fragmentation or the communication of violent or overstressed emotion.

The style was characterised by an early-modernist adoption of novel materials, formal innovation, and very unusual massing, sometimes inspired by natural biomorphic forms, sometimes by the new technical possibilities offered by the mass production of brick, steel and especially glass.

Influence of individualists such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaud also provided the surrounding context for expressionist architecture.

Neo Expressionism

In the middle of the twentieth century, in the 50s and 60s, many architects began designing in a manner reminiscent of expressionist architecture.

Another mid-century modern architect to evoke expressionism was Eero Saarinen. A similar aesthetic can be found in later buildings such as Eero Saarinen's 1962 TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport. His TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport has an organic form...

Expressionism in Architecture
By Cesario Dwi Yoniarto
Learning Architecture
(online May 2016)

Expressionism is the way of expressing something in and around something that you feel emotionally, from all the things that happen phenomenally. This is one of the movements in architecture in the 20th century, mainly in Europe, where at that time people fought in the World War I, including the architects at that time.

Such architects like Frank Gehry, developed architecture from the sense of expressionism, being individualistic from the other surroundings, expressing emotional values.


By Adrian Sheppard
McGill University
(online May 2016)

In the pictorial arts, the movement focused on capturing vivid reactions through powerful color, dynamic composition, formal distortion, and the desire for expression.

In architecture, on the other hand, Expressionism emphasized form, abstraction, repudiation of modernist rationalist ideals, and the traditional classical box.

The recurring formal themes were often inspired by natural phenomena, such as caves, crystal, rocks, and organic, non-geometric forms. The reason for focusing on the organic rather than the geometric was to produce an architecture of motion and emotion, ambiance, radicalism, and sweeping change.

It was not until the 1950’s that historians such as Henry Russell Hitchcock, Reyner Banham, and Franco Borsi6 wrote important compendia on Expressionism re-evaluating the pertinence of the movement in a positive way. As it turned out, critics and historians, especially those of the postwar era, were wrong in believing that Expressionism was a spent force for it continued as an artistic concern right through to the present day.

Frank Lloyd Wright was by far America’s most versatile architect. Although he cannot be considered an Expressionist in the true sense of the term, some of his post-war buildings clearly embody the values and formal ideas associated with Neo-Expressionism. The Guggenheim Museum in New York is, par excellence, a Neo-Expressionist icon.

During the 1960’s, Eero Saarinen was one of America’s principal masters of the Neo- Expressionism movement. It is ironic that he was also one of America’s most successful establishment architects. He was able to produce a body of significant Expressionist works for corporate and institutional clients who usually seek the route of safe, conservative architecture. Saarinen was one of the few architects who convinced his clients that daring, unconventional buildings made corporate sense.

He began his career as a committed follower of Mies van de Rohe ... His first and most significant Neo-Expressionist building was the TWA Terminal (1959-1962) ... Saarinen believed that modern architecture lacked drama. He wanted to create memorable buildings with daring structural techniques. His goal was “to express the drama and the specialness and excitement of travel”.

Examples in Buffalo:

Examples out of Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement 2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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