Primitivism is the representation of culture as exotic or savage. This idea originated in Europe and shapes the way outsiders view cultures they encounter. It can be directly linked to Romanticism, modernism, and exoticism. Although primarily associated with European colonialism, primitivism has existed in many forms throughout history.
Romanticism, in particular, is often associated with primitivism, as it often had a central focus on the irrational and exotic.
Romanticism was a movement in the arts and literature that flourished in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is characterized by a reaction against the Enlightenment, rationalization of nature and society, and the growing importance of individual experience as a source of truth. Romanticism first emerged in England, where it was associated with William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). A more extreme form of Romanticism became known as Gothic literature, which emphasized mystery, horror and madness as opposed to reason; this movement began with Horace Walpole’s Castle Of Otranto in 1765.
Primitivism has existed in many forms.
In its broadest sense, primitivism is a way of looking at the world: it is not just about art or aesthetics. It’s about seeing everything as being in some way primitive. Primitivism does not only refer to art, but also to other aspects of life like science and technology.
Primitivists see things as either primitive or advanced—there are no grey areas here when it comes down to what you believe in. They believe that the most advanced forms of culture come from urban life while those considered more “primitive” come from rural areas where people have less access to technology and rely on their own skills instead of relying on machines or other artificial methods (like farming).
Other forms of romantic primitivism may not come from an actual experience of that culture, but from an imagined experience of it.
Primitivism can also be associated with romanticism. Romanticism is often associated with exoticism, which is itself often associated with colonialism. Colonialism has a long history of being used to justify racism and ethnocentrism, which are also at the root of primitivism.
As you can see, there are many different ways that primitivism can be linked to other forms of racism: by being related to them through an association between romanticism and exoticism; by being directly influenced by colonialism; or even just because it’s part of a larger cultural trend that was influenced by colonialism.
Some scholars have claimed that primitivism allows for a kind of elitism among those who can afford to travel; this is most true for colonialism
Some scholars have claimed that primitivism allows for a kind of elitism among those who can afford to travel; this is most true for colonialism.
The fact that many people think about the “exotic” as a place where they can get away from society and its restrictions, combined with the romanticism that goes along with primitivism (and often exoticism), has led many to associate it with colonialism. Colonialism is closely tied to elitism, as only certain people are allowed access to certain places due to their status in society or wealth.
According to media scholar Tricia Jenkins, the birth of motion pictures began a new era in primitivist discourse.
According to media scholar Tricia Jenkins, the birth of motion pictures began a new era in primitivist discourse. Prior to cinema, primitivists had been content with writing about “exotic” cultures and peoples. But once filmmakers began depicting actual African tribesmen on screen, it became possible for people in Europe and America to see natives who looked very much like themselves but behaved differently. This made it easier for Western audiences who did not want to face their own cultural biases and prejudices to accept them as true representations of life in Africa or elsewhere.
This aesthetic was exemplified by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 30s, which brought about a modernist reinterpretation of primitivist styles
Art Deco was a style of design that incorporated elements of primitive and exotic art. It was a modernist reinterpretation of primitivist styles, and it emerged as a reaction to the Art Nouveau movement which had dominated European design for 30 years prior.
Many elements of primitive and exotic art were incorporated into Art Deco design.
Art Deco is a style of architecture, graphic design and decorative arts that first appeared in France in the 1920s and was popular until the beginning of World War II. The name comes from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts) held in Paris in 1925.
The Art Deco movement had its roots in Europe but quickly spread to other parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and South America. This included countries like Egypt, where many elements of primitive or tribal art were incorporated into designs for public buildings such as banks or hotels as well as private homes.
Both modernism and exoticism are linked to colonialism and imperialism.
The relationship between modernism and exoticism, then, is that they are both related to colonialism and imperialism. The desire to view the Other as a “pure” example of their culture originated with Western colonial powers, who looked at indigenous peoples as living in a way that was somehow better than the European ways of life.
Exoticism inspired by primitivism can also be seen in works like those by Gauguin and Van Gogh; these artists were enthralled by the idea of native people living authentic lives free from European influence. They painted scenes from Tahiti in order to capture this idealized vision. But while some critics see these paintings as simply romanticizing an entirely fabricated concept (as we mentioned above), others feel that they express something deeper about human nature: namely, our fascination with otherness—whether physical or mental—and how it affects our perception of ourselves.
Socialist primitivism is not limited to Europe; rather, it occurs wherever there is an active socialist movement.
Socialist primitivism is a form of primitivism that is used to critique capitalism. It differs from other forms of primitivism in that it attempts to unite people behind the idea that socialism could improve society, rather than simply criticizing capitalism as the source of all suffering. In this sense, socialist primitivists are similar to utopian socialists: they believe that human beings can work together toward a better future if they are only given the opportunity. The difference between socialist and utopian socialism is simply one of tactics; while utopian socialists believe that revolution will lead us out of capitalism, socialist primitivists think we have already entered into an age where revolution has become possible for many more people around the world due to increased technological capabilities and global connectivity.
Primitivism is usually tied to Romanticism
- Primitivism is usually tied to Romanticism. This is true because Romanticism is an artistic and literary movement that began in Europe around 1770. Romanticism places a central focus on the irrational and exotic, as opposed to the rational approach of the Enlightenment (the 18th century).
- The exotic is also used to criticize modern life. In other words, primitivism can be seen as a response to capitalism and industrialization.
While primitivism has generally been a European phenomenon, there is no reason why it can’t exist in other parts of the world. However, because this essay focuses on primitivism as a facet of Romanticism, we have been less concerned with its history and more interested in understanding its meaning from within this particular context. We hope that you have found something useful or interesting about primitivism here!