What Is Primitivism Meaning

Primitivism is a style of art that uses the natural world as a jumping off point for something more abstract, yet still influenced by nature. While it may seem like an oxymoron to say that something is at once primitive and abstract, this term refers to a specific period in the history of art. The first step to understanding primitivism is knowing when it started and why.

Why the term is used

Primitivism is a style of art that is based on the aesthetic of primitive art.

In order to understand primitivism, you must first understand what primitive art is.

Primitive art is created by people who do not have a written language, and this makes it distinct from other kinds of non-literate cultures that create forms of visual expression such as cave painting or carvings.

The term “primitive” has nothing to do with whether or not the artist or culture are civilized; it refers only to their lack of literacy and material resources for creating fine art, rather than just being something unsophisticated or simple

Major figures in primitivism

Major figures in primitivism include Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Henri Rousseau.

Sub-movements of the period

The early 20th century was a time of rapid change and upheaval, and this was reflected in the art of the period. In fact, some art historians call it the beginning of Modernism because it marked a shift away from traditional painting styles.

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The earliest movements were Dadaism (which began in Zurich) and Surrealism (founded by André Breton). These both rejected traditional logic and sought to create new worlds through chance encounters or unconscious thought processes. They also drew inspiration from popular culture instead of classical themes found in earlier works by artists like Michelangelo or Raphael, who had been dead for hundreds of years by then; however, Cubism came later than these two movements so we’ll talk about that next!

Dadaism was marked by playful irreverence toward all things: language conventions were ignored as well as social norms; sometimes people would even wear costumes instead of their normal clothes just for fun! The goal was often humorous—to make others laugh at first glance before digging into deeper meaning later on down the line.”

The influence of primitivism on modern art

The influence of primitivism on modern art is deep-seated. The movement’s influence can be seen in the work of artists like Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miro and Paul Klee.

Jean Dubuffet was a French artist who used his own body to create artworks that were considered primitive by critics. He also incorporated everyday objects such as rocks and animal parts into his artwork as well. Aside from these elements, he also used bits of trash or stuff found on the ground sometimes called “found objects” for inspiration for some of his pieces.

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Primitivism and postmodernism

Primitivism is a modernist reaction to the idea that the most important thing about art is the artist’s intention. It’s a rejection of modernism, which believed in things like universal truth and rational thought as ways to understand or explain the world. Primitivist artists want viewers to question whether there is such a thing as universal truth and to think critically about how their own thoughts affect their view of reality.

Primitivism also has its roots in postmodernism—a school of thought that came after modernism but still questions many aspects of it—and seeks to give back agency over our lives by questioning authority figures like artists and politicians. Poststructuralism asks us “who benefits from this?” when we look at societal structures; this can help us understand how power dynamics work in society today so we can work toward dismantling them tomorrow!

Being aware of the history of primitive art is important for appreciating modern art.

To fully appreciate modern art, you need to understand primitivism. Modern artists are influenced by the period in which many of them were born and grew up: the 20th century. During this time, there was a surge in interest in primitive art and culture due to a number of factors including colonialism and imperialism, which resulted in people adopting ideas from other cultures as their own. This fusion is called “primitivism” or “modern primitivism,” and it’s important because it has influenced how artists think about and create art today.

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Modern Primitivism: A Brief History

Primitive art is characterized by its use of non-Western materials such as wood or clay rather than paper or canvas; its lack of perspective (only one perspective shown); its tendency toward flatness; stylized figures that look like stick figures with simple shapes (such as circles for eyes). You can see examples above from ancient Egypt at left, with some later French examples below right from Les Trois Frères Cave paintings (France) 2500 BCE).


What we can say for sure is that the primitivism movement helped lay the groundwork for modern art. Artists were inspired by primitive works throughout the twentieth century, and particularly in the period after World War II. It’s clear that these influences continue to live on today, as we see new expressions being created from old styles of painting and sculpture.

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