The beginning of Expressionism took place in Germany. Most artists came from Berlin, Cologne, and Munich. Expressionism began with a few artists and slowly grew to attract new members. Many artists showed an appreciation for the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists. However, what would later inspire artists on an individual level were the problems created by World War I. Like artists from every era, the Expressionists expressed their concerns in their paintings.

The Expressionists were surrounded by many new Late 19th century practices. They used many of these practices to formulate their own artistry. They cited support from a list of contemporaries including psychiatry Freud, philosopher Nietzche, and writer Dostoevsky. Throughout the movement, these key figures played an important role in attracting new members. They also played an important role in supporting the Expressionists point of view; that expression is always a part of artwork.