The word 'expressionism' is used for innovative, anti-impressionist tendencies in the visual arts in Western Europe, starting around 1905. In Germany, France, Belgium and Austria, groups of like-minded artists arose who wanted to express reality instead of painting. indicate their own feelings towards their subject. For their visual language they used the expressive power of color and a free interpretation of forms. The earliest manifestation of expressionism takes place in Germany with the groups Die Brücke (Dresden, 1905-1913) and Der Blaue Reiter (Munich, 1911-1914), and in France with the Fauvists. Especially in Germany, the bond with reality sometimes fades to such an extent that it virtually disappears. Expressionism expresses itself in different ways in our country. As a real group we can only mention the Groninger Ploeg, in which the same spiritual unity prevailed as in the above-mentioned German avant-garde groups. Bright, exuberant colors and a bold transformation of nature are the characteristic style elements of painters such as Johan Dijkstra, Jan Wiegers and Jan Altink in the heyday of De Ploeg from 1920 onwards.
The Bergen School (1915-1925) is usually also classified as expressionism, although this was more about a collection of individual artists who were active in Amsterdam and Bergen in turn and who had unanimous ideas. The founders of this movement were the French painter Henri Le Fauconnier and the Dutchman Piet van Wijngaerdt. The landscapes, still lifes and also the human figures of the artists of the Bergen School are usually characterized by simple shapes and surfaces, a solid brushstroke and a colorite with many deep, dark colors such as browns, greens and ocher. The core of the School - in addition to the two founders - includes the painters Dirk Filarski, Arnout Colnot, Else Berg, Mommie Schwarz, Wim Schuhmacher and the brothers Matthieu and Piet Wiegman. There are more painters who have worked to a greater or lesser extent in the same dark-toned, somewhat cubist expressionism, such as Charley Toorop and Gerrit van Blaaderen, and even Harrie Kuyten's characteristic expressionism is sometimes recognizable in his work.
In 1918 the collector Piet Boendermaker also settled in rustic Bergen. When he moved, he already owned more than 300 paintings; Boendermaker bought big. His interest was piqued by Dr. J.F. Esser (1877-1946)), his parents-in-law's GP and collector of modern art, who introduced him to Leo Gestel. In the period 1908-1915 Boendermaker provided painters such as Leo Gestel, Jan Sluijters, Kees Maks, Dirk Filarski, Arnout Colnot and Matthieu Wiegman a more or less constant income by purchasing a lot of their work.