Expressionism is a movement or tendency that strives to express subjective feelings and emotions rather than to depict reality or nature objectively.
The movement developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a reaction against the academic standards that had prevailed in Europe since the Renaissance (1300-1600), particularly in French and German art academies. In expressionism the artist tries to present an emotional experience in its most compelling form. The artist is not concerned with reality as it appears but with its inner nature and with the emotions aroused by the subject. To achieve these ends, the subject is frequently caricatured, exaggerated, distorted, or otherwise altered in order to stress the emotional experience in its most intense and concentrated form.
Although the term expressionism was not applied to painting until 1911, the qualities attributed to expressionism are found in the art of almost every country and period. Some Chinese and Japanese art emphasizes the essential qualities of the subject rather than its physical appearance.