Art primitivism essay

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Art primitivism essay

Philosophy[ edit ] Primitivism is a utopian idea that is distinctive for its reverse teleology. The utopian end toward which primitivists aspire usually lies in a notional "state of nature" in which their ancestors existed chronological primitivismor in the supposed natural condition of the peoples that live beyond "civilization" cultural primitivism.

Primitivist idealism between gained new impetus with the onset of industrialization and the European encounter with hitherto unknown peoples after the colonization of the Americas, the Pacific and other parts of what would become the modern imperial system.

During the Enlightenmentthe idealization of indigenous peoples were chiefly used as a rhetorical device to criticize aspects of European society. Vico was writing in the context of the celebrated contemporary debate, known as the great Quarrel of Art primitivism essay Ancients and the Moderns.

This included debates over the merits of the poetry of Homer and the Bible as against modern vernacular literature. In the 18th century, the German scholar Friedrich August Wolf identified the distinctive character of oral literature and located Homer and the Art primitivism essay as examples of folk or oral tradition Prolegomena to Homer, A result of this, new schools of visual art arose that aspired to hitherto unprecedented levels of historical fidelity in setting and costumes.

Neoclassicism in visual art and architecture was one result.

Art primitivism essay

Another such "historicist" movement in art was the Nazarene movement in Germany, which took inspiration from the so-called Italian "primitive" school of devotional paintings i.

Where conventional academic painting after Raphael used dark glazes, highly selective, idealized forms, and rigorous suppression of details, the Nazarenes used clear outlines, bright colors, and paid meticulous attention to detail. This German school had its English counterpart in the Pre-Raphaeliteswho were primarily inspired by the critical writings of John Ruskinwho admired the painters before Raphael such as Botticelli and who also recommended painting outdoors, hitherto unheard of.

Two developments shook the world of visual art in the midth century. The first was the invention of the photographic camera, which arguably spurred the development of Realism in art. The second was a discovery in the world of mathematics of non-Euclidean geometrywhich overthrew the year-old seeming absolutes of Euclidean geometry and threw into question conventional Renaissance perspective by suggesting the possible existence of multiple dimensional worlds and perspectives in which things might look very different.

Artists, mathematicians, and intellectuals now realized that there were other ways of seeing things beyond what they had been taught in Beaux Arts Schools of Academic paintingwhich prescribed a rigid curriculum based on the copying of idealized classical forms and held up Renaissance perspective painting as the culmination of civilization and knowledge.

In rebellion against this dogmatic approach, Western artists began to try to depict realities that might exist in a world beyond the limitations of the three dimensional world of conventional representation mediated by classical sculpture.

They looked to Japanese and Chinese artwhich they regarded as learned and sophisticated and did not employ Renaissance one-point perspective. Non-euclidean perspective and tribal art fascinated Western artists who saw in them the still-enchanted portrayal of the spirit world.

Tribal and other non-European art also appealed to those who were unhappy with the repressive aspects of European culture, as pastoral art had done for millennia. Actual examples of tribal, archaic, and folk art were prized by both creative artists and collectors.

The painting of Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso and the music of Igor Stravinsky are frequently cited as the most prominent examples of primitivism in art. It employs harsh dissonance and loud, repetitive rhythms to depict " Dionysian " modernismi. Nevertheless, Stravinsky was a master of learned classical tradition and worked within its bounds.

With the decline of feudalismphilosophers started questioning many fixed medieval assumptions about human nature, the position of humans in society, and the strictures of Christianity, and especially Catholicism.

Art primitivism essay

They began questioning the nature of humanity and its origins through a discussion of the natural man, which had intrigued theologians since the European encounter with the New World.

From the 18th century, Western thinkers and artists continued to engage in the retrospective tradition, that is "the conscious search in history for a more deeply expressive, permanent human nature and cultural structure in contrast to the nascent modern realities".

The invention of the steamboat and other innovations in global transportation in the 19th century brought the indigenous cultures of the European colonies and their artifacts into metropolitan centres of empire.

Many western-trained artists and connoisseurs were fascinated by these objects, attributing their features and styles to "primitive" forms of expression; especially the perceived absence of linear perspective, simple outlines, the presence of symbolic signs such as the hieroglyphemotive distortions of the figure, and the perceived energetic rhythms resulting from the use of repetitive ornamental pattern.

Spirit of the Dead Watching, Albright Knox Art Gallery. Painter Paul Gauguin sought to escape European civilization and technology, taking up residence in the French colony of Tahiti and adopted a stripped-back lifestyle which he felt to be more natural than was possible in Europe.

Gauguin also believed he was celebrating Tahitian society and defending the Tahitians against European colonialism. Feminist postcolonial critics, however, decry the fact that Gauguin took adolescent mistresses, one of them as young as thirteen.

Using Gauguin as an example of what is "wrong" with primitivism, these critics conclude that, in their view, elements of primitivism include the "dense interweave of racial and sexual fantasies and power both colonial and patriarchal".

Thus, they contend, primitivism becomes a process analogous to Exoticism and Orientalismas critqued by Edward Saidin which European imperialism and monolithic and degrading views of the "East" by the "West" defined colonized peoples and their cultures.

The desire to recover a notional and idealized past in which humans had been at one with nature is here connected to a critique of the impact of Western modernity on colonized societies. These artists often critique Western stereotypes about "primitive" colonized peoples at the same time as they yearn to recover pre-colonial modes of experience.

They self-consciously idealized pre-colonial Africa, something that took many forms. This typically consisted in rejecting overweening European rationalism and the associated ravages of colonialism while positing pre-colonial African societies as having had a more communal and organic basis.

The work of the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam is particularly notable among the visual artists of negritude. Lam met Pablo Picasso and the European surrealists while living in Paris in the s.Modernism & Primitivism. Modernism & Primitivism Modernism is a trend of thought involving the power to create, improve, deconstruct and reshape with the help of science technology - Modernism & Primitivism introduction.

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It is a cultural reformation in art, architecture, music and literature. EXAMINES "PRIMITIVISM" IN 20TH CENTURY ART Primitive art trace the arrival and dissemination of African, Oceanic, American Indian, and Eskimo art in the West. Fifteen other essays by a variety of scholars discuss the major artistic figures and movements in terms of the com­.

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View Primitivism 20th art Research Papers on for free. Primitivism is a mode of aesthetic idealization that either emulates or aspires to recreate "primitive" experience. In Western art, primitivism typically has borrowed from non-Western or prehistoric people perceived to be "primitive", such as Paul Gauguin 's inclusion of .


The essays draw on art theory, psychology, and the close study of individual works of art and written texts. Discovering Child Art will appeal to a wide range of readers, including art historians, psychologists, and art educators.

Modernism & Primitivism Essay Example | Graduateway