The two fundamental attitudes dominating artistic production in the last part of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th remained the same as those discussed throughout the long evolution of Occidental art. In terms of painting, most easily described because most easily seen, physioplastic and ideoplastic art, in their purest forms, persisted to inspire definite schools of painters, called "impressionists" and "expressionists."
The contrast can most clearly be pointed out in the two paintings in color, by Turner and by Franz Marc. Turner, although a forerunner of the impressionists, cannot be listed categorically under the school active in France and Germany from 1874 to 1910. Marc, who was killed in 1916 at Verdun, definitely belonged, with Kandinsky, Feininger, Klee, Arp, and others, to those Germans narrowly called the "Blue Rider Group" of Munich expressionists.
The two terms "impressionist" and "expressionist" here are used to define generally two opposing tendencies in the art of our times. Later they appear historically and specifically to describe the schools that, with the pointillists, cubists, futurists, syntheticists, vorticists, Dadaists, suprematists, and surrealists, include most of the leading groups of the last fifty years. All the schools that came after historical Impressionism show a progressive movement away from photographic realism and a definite intention to create an abstract art.
The painting by Turner reveals nature in many misty vistas which glisten with all the colors of the rainbow. In his work nature seems changeable as a dream. An analysis of Turner's creation will clarify the relationship of the impressionists to the expressionists, and between these two extremes range all the other groups.
The great work of art always contains a geometric, underlying symbolic construction, clothed with a realistic impression that carries the verisimilitude necessary to impress the beholder. Turner, being a complete genius, left a picture in which we, like Ruskin, can find the lines of force. An expressionist painter, like Marc, simply emphasizes these lines, thus affirming his belief in the dynamics of existence.
An impressionist painter such as Monet concerns himself with the indistinct pattern of color areas , omitting the dynamic lines of force and losing himself in an almost mystical adoration of the static, fluid, opalescent light. As we shall see, Cézanne strove to make the color dynamic and to get a synthesis between the two. One general rule dominates both impressionists and expressionists -- literary subject matter with associational values shall be reduced to a minimum. In this way both Monet and Marc usually differ from Turner.