Primitivism Naive: artistic evolution

Primitivism Naive: artistic evolution
Isabel del Rio

Primitivism naive. From Primitive art to Naive art. Origin, evolution and main artists.

Primitivism Naive, by Grandma Moses

Primitivism Naive, by Grandma Moses

Primitivism Naive.
More than a style, Primitivism is a tendency started in late 19th century by post- impressionist artists, especially Gauguin. It was with the Industrial Revolution and the Transportation Revolution, when Europeans began to travel and to admire other ‘exotic’ cultures. It was the time of the large excavations in Egypt, of constant trips to India and explorations in Africa, and a growing admiration for Japanese prints, very popular in Paris (see for example ‘Plum Tree in Blossom’ by Van Gogh, which is a proof of his wonder for Hiroshige and for the Japanese prints he collected). However, it was a cause of Gauguin and his paintings in Tahiti, when the like for abandoning the traditions of European artistic culture that had been established since the Renaissance, it really started to be in vogue. Then, the simplicity and expressiveness that artists appreciate in other old or far cultures were the bases of experiments by members of the leading artistic movements of the following century. The faces of ‘The Ladies of Avignon’ by Pablo Picasso are based on African masks and the ‘primitive’ Iberian art of Spain will be a constant motive in his pottery.

Prehistoric, medieval, folk, whatever non-European art and children’s art will be the elements of ‘primitive art’ and these elements could join with the elements of other avant-garde movements. The Fauvists, the Cubists, the Paris school (see the sculptures by Brancusi), and the Dadaists in France will marked by these Primitivist elements that had previously been considered rude, barbaric and even ‘low’. The Expressionist works of Die Brücke in Germany, the works by the Blue Rose or A.V. Shevchenko’s theories in Russia reflect also the influence of primitive art by their emotional clarity and their spontaneous way of looking at the world in contrast to the analytical realism and cold naturalism of previous Western artistic movements.

Primitivism Naive, by Paul Gauguin

Primitivism Naive, by Paul Gauguin

Since Primitivism is not a single movement, it manifests itself in different ways in the work of a great number of artists. Some of them were self-trained artists (for example the American Edward Hicks: ‘The Peaceful Kingdom’; or the French Henry Rousseau and his ‘Jungle Paintings’), who develop their talents in a fanciful and fresh manner; some others were very technical artists with important degrees in Western Fine Arts schools (the said Brancusi or Pablo Picasso), but all of them had hostility to the Academicism and strict rules of that dominating spirit of positivism.

The word Primitivism is often used interchangeably with Naive art, because children art has been considered another smooth manifestation of a free soul. Remarkable are the works of Horace Pippin and Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses) in the United States; Niko Pirosmani in Georgia; Georg Muche in Germany; or Ivan Generalic in Croatia. All of them are marked by a combination, at times comic, of simplified forms and minute details.

Here, some quotes that reflect what Primitive artist think about themselves:

“I had no teacher other than nature.” Henry Rousseau.

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” Frida Kahlo.

Primitivism Naive. Video to honor Horace Pippin

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