FAH246 –Sept 21 st
All of these artists sought to challenge European conventions that they felt to be repressive,
and all imagined the primitive as an exotic world where style and self might be refashioned
Primitivism extends beyond art, it’s a fantasy: return to origin, escape into nature, liberation
Journey outside Western art was strategic: exceed old academic conventions and recent
Paul Gauguin ‘s primitivism –Major theme in 19 century
What comes into museum practice, what should be displayed?
The primitive, the basic pure
He was looking for the primitive, something that was untouched by modernity
Colonial period, Tahiti, was a French colony. He was the colonizer
The search for primitivism became the looking for other cultures
The term is derogatory in itself, its part of the colonial mentality, the French, the Dutch, the
German, the superior races
Primitive people had access to the spiritual and unsullied with the modern world, speed and
money, free perverse repression sexual and otherwise
They thought they could get away from this repression and suppression. They could be more
themselves by getting access to this kind of primitivism; we should be critical of their
The father of ‘modernist primitivism’
Inspired by him, many modernists drew on tribal art for forms and motifs: Matisse and
Picasso, but with different trajectories.
Spirit of the Dead Watching -1892
He is thinking of the fears and superstition
The embodiment of her fears, shes extremely vulnerable not only
to Gauging but to the viewer
we become voyeurs of her nakedness, of her superstition her fears
It echoes Olympia. He plays off this difference with Manet’s
Olympia (she was not vulnerable, she was a prostitute, in charge of
her own sexuality) Hes changing it, he shows you much more. The
voyeuristic aspect here is even stronger.
Primitivism is modernism’s troubled rejection of modernity. Projects contemporary
European society, as it seeks an out. Its a troubled rejection because it gets u into another set
of problems, because Gaugin couldn’t get away from his society, from his own desires, you
cant get away from your own dreams anymore than his partner cant get away from her
Primitivism is modernism’s attempted flight from the fundamental realities in modernity
Not so much rejection of something in contemporary society around 1900, but the desire for
the primitive. They only get out in terms of these primitivism but they can’t get out.
Makes reference to tradition (academic nude and avant-garde subversion), shows deference
to its masters like titian and Manet, and shows his own difference as he proposes a new
THE EXOTIC/ EXOTICISM
Blue Nude -1907
Dealing with the primitive too in a way, African society and the
Islamic influences that infiltrated into Europe
He was very influenced by Islamic art, patterns
1 Depictions based on trips to North Africa/Orientalism
He was not looking for primitivism but for the exotic. Yet these two play back and fort.
Brutality of depiction, abrupt movements and curves of the female nudes. Idealized forms
going back to the Greeks.
Exhibited in 1907, people in the art world and the general public came to see works like
these and were outraged.
Plastic alternative to cubism
Demoiselles d’ Avignon -1907
Focused in Iberian reliefs/sculptures
Iconic of 20 century painting
Instantiation of the Primitive
Did number of drawings of research for this painting. Constantly
reworking in individual fragmentary parts, changed the story lines.
So, it’s a struggle around the question of expression of the primitive
Mapping of different kinds of primitive sources. The women on the left
side are taken from Iberian sculptures. As he was developing to the right
hand side, African masks like faces. The sense of shocking antiquity and primitivism.
Probably not the first cubist painting. Wasn’t exhibited until 1937
It didn’t have huge impact, only close people saw it.
Innovators of Cubism, although there are cubistic aspects there are really not cubes in this
Tremendously radical painting, it draws the viewer through its shock value
It was a statement
A manifesto, set of ideas.
It changed by the middle teens and 1920s.
Transition from Cubism
Mask-like faces, reminiscing, not straight trajectory to Africa
Interesting blue background, soft edges and tones gives sense of framing
Each artist looks outside the Western tradition to tribal art, in a fantasy of
the primitive body, to advance within Western art.
Rose Selavy: Was Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego
EXPRESSIONISM AND EXPRESSIONIST/ COLLECTIVITY
Came to describe German art
Expanded completely, quite typical
Formed in Dresden 1905 by group of Expressionist artists
Different reasons for forming groups.
Collectivity helps you exhibit, and allows you to form a kind of school
German phenomenon, radical new thoughts in the art world
Social art, reflect on contemporary German society. All of these were interested in the
primitive (Northern group of Die Brucke)
They were all architecture students with no art training.
All artist interested in expression and primitive more than in other places
2 All artists were uneducated in the arts, they had studied