Expressionism in the Art Market

Expressionism in the Art Market

Expressionism is of key importance as an artistic movement and remains heavily relevant to the global art market today. Characterized by its bold forms, vibrant colors, and subjective interpretations of reality, interest from collectors and investors continues to grow as buyers search for fresh, exciting and visually arresting works of art. The current global economic climate has also contributed to this growing popularity, leading to a greater appreciation for art that prioritises the carrying of emotional weight and expressive power.  


Understanding Expressionism


Expressionism, originating in the early 20th century, is an art movement that prioritizes the expression of emotion and subjective experience over objective representation. It often distorts reality, exaggerates forms, and employs vivid colors to convey intense feelings and inner turmoil. Expressionist artists seek to evoke powerful responses from viewers, delving into themes of angst, alienation, and existential questioning. The movement encompasses various art forms, including painting, sculpture, literature, and film, each imbued with a distinctive emotional intensity. 

Neo-expression emerged in the 1980s, characterized by a return to figurative painting with an emphasis on emotion and the individual. This was a direct reaction to the non-representational art of expressionism that had come before it, creating bold, intense, audacious and controversial works of art. Incorporating elements of popular culture and turning to raw emotion, neo-expressionism has even been branded by some as “shock art”. 

Cabeza, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2004.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Neo-Expressionism and Symbolism


Jean-Michel Basquiat, a seminal figure in the contemporary art scene and one of the key pioneers of Neo-Expressionism still wields great weight in the art market today. Merging elements of expressionism with street art and graffiti, his vibrant canvases pulsate with energy, featuring bold brushstrokes, enigmatic symbols, and fragmented texts. Basquiat's work reflects his personal struggles, racial identity, and socio-political commentary, resonating with audiences globally.  




Basquiat is consistently one of the top artists at auction worldwide, despite the fact that collectors don’t often sell his works. 2021 set a record for the market value of his highest sales, standing at $439.6m. Despite fluctuations in the market due to macroeconomic factors and the limited number of Basquiat works in circulation, his work has continued to increase in value leading to a record sale in 2023 by Christie’s of ‘El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile)’ (1983) for $58m. 

El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile), Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1983.


The mystery around verifying the authenticity of Basquiat’s original works inevitably increases their value also, with the difficulty being centred around some of his genuine earlier works being painted on cardboard, doors and other materials. This means Basquiat has continued to stay relevant in the media, with an exhibition at the Florida Museum raided by the FBI in June 2022 with all 25 paintings declared as fakes. This continued popularity has also been aided by collaborations between Basquiat’s estate and brands such as Coach and Dr Martens bringing his art to a younger generation, and rappers including Jay-Z and Lil Nas X naming him in their music. 


Stony: Neo-Expressionism and Basquiat Inspired


Prevalent Neo-Expressionist Stony's works draw inspiration from Basquiat, with controversial typography, neon colours and a symbolic essence throughout the works. Stony is the alias of artist Antonio Russo, expressionist artist who sadly passed away from a brain tumour in 2022. His work is tied to urban and street art, featuring his own personal mantras and abstract style.

A Beautiful Thing Is Never Perfect, Stony, Mixed Media, 23" x 33" Inches Framed.


His story is similar to Basquiat's, with an increase in investment due to limited availability of posthumous works and the intense feelings portrayed in his work as he confronted facing life, mortality and adversity. Moreover, the influence of music and pop culture.


Sharp Ends and Real Faces, Stony, Limited Edition of 100, 23" x 33" Framed.

Christian Hook: Figurative Expressionism 


In contrast to Basquiat's pioneering Neo-Expressionism, Christian Hook exemplifies a contemporary approach to Expressionism through his exploration of Figurative Expressionism. Hook's meticulously crafted portraits possess an emotive intensity, capturing the essence of his subjects through dynamic brushwork and bold colors. While rooted in traditional figurative painting, Hook infuses his works with a modern sensibility, blurring the lines between realism and expressionism. His ability to convey raw emotion and psychological depth has garnered widespread acclaim, positioning him as a leading figure in the contemporary art world. 


Electronica, Christian Hook, Limited Edition, 23" x 38" Inches Framed.

Hook mixes realism and abstraction with an exploration of the essence of time, heavily inspired by African and Iberian Art, Surrealism and Expressionism. He started his career studying Illustration at Middlesex University, London then progressing to lecturing on the Art of Illustration at the Royal College of Art. In 2014 Sky Arts named him Portrait Artist of the Year, and his portrayal of Alan Cumming is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. His focus is on depicting the passing of time and moments between events, as “we are always on the move, if not physically, mentally”. 


Geishas at Dera Temple, Christian Hook, Limited Edition, 60" x 48" Inches Framed.

To view our full Christian Hook collection online, click here.


Antonio Russo: Expressionism and Movement

Russo's artwork ties in the bright, bold, emotive colour palettes of Neo-Expressionism with Hook's focus on capturing moments. His art is all inspired by music, creating dynamic and vivid works to create a visual representation of the experience of time spent influenced by sound. Feeling and emotion is at the forefront of the work, creating completely abstract works that masterfully capture snippets of time and mood.

Garden of Delights, Antonio Russo, Limited Edition, 48" x 34" Unframed.


In conclusion, Expressionism in its variety of guises and resulting forms of inspiration remains significantly relevant in the contemporary art scene today. With Neo-Expressionists such as Basquiat still dominating global art auctions and influencing successful predecessors such as Stony, we continue to see how popular culture and Symbolism remain popular for collectors and art dealers seeking bold, controversial artworks. Moreover, how Expressionism has influenced the Figurative approaches of prevalent current artists like Christian Hook, and how the Expressionist exploration of time and feeling features in the work of Antonio Russo.

For more information on our collection of Expressionist artworks, please contact the gallery or pop by to view.

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