Expressionism in the Netherlands developed as a reaction to the concept of art of the impressionist Hague School, which remained static at the beginning of the 20th century. The Dutch expressionists asked for an inward turn and a spiritual modernization of the world and mankind in order to overcome Materialism, therewith showing a typical expressionist future pathos. The art theory of Dutch Expressionism mixes socialist and theosophical thought, entirely without risking contradiction, ethic and aesthetics are closely linked in Dutch Expressionism.
Preferred topics of Dutch Expressionism are dramatic landscapes, gnarled and partly monumental figures and animals as well as torn still lifes. In some cases a certain tendency to dissolving the objects can also be observed. The color palette consists of mostly dark and melancholic tones, that ties in with the early work of the Dutchman Vincent van Gogh. The works of the Norwegian Edvard Munch also made for an important model for the Dutch expressionists, just as French Fauvism, even though its decorative effect did not comply with the Dutch tendency of a painting style that expressed heavy thoughts.
Important centers of Dutch Expressionism were Bergen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Groningen and South Limburg. Among the most important artists were Jan Sluitjers, Jan Wiegers, Charley Toorop, Hendrik Chabot, Leo Gestel, Kees van Dongen, Piet Wiegman and Jan Thorn Prikker, who was a native Dutch, however, he was active in Germany most of the time.