Primitivism is one of the greatest events in European Art, which appeared in the beginning of XX century as a result of interest of professional artists to traditional creative works of nations of Africa, America and Oceania, to city and peasant folks and to children creative works as well.
The basis is the desire to achieve purity of views on life, which is the feature of consciousness, unspoilt by civilization. Besides the fact that primitivism was one of the leading art tendency of are in XX century, it determined stylistics of many different directions (such as expressionism, surrealism, etc) and became the integral part of their language of expression.
The very term “primitivism” is also used in respect of so-called naïve art, it means to creative works of artists, who didn’t receive proper education, but who became participants of common art process (for example, French painter Henri Rousseau, Yugoslavian painter Ivan Generalich, etc).
The main characteristics of this art can be formulated by following words: “freshness and spontaneity of perception and creation… real and non-affected naivety, life-asserting optimism and colorful folk, spontaneous pleasure of “amazement” and perception of environment, naturalness and organic of realism, possessing not only visibility but the essence of subject and event…” (Ostrovskiy, “About City Art Folk” – Soviet Fine Art’74, M., 1975, pp. 308-309).
The main characteristic of primitivism is program simplifying of art. To crystallize, to clear the emotion you can also by way of simplification, some kind of idealization of subjects. Henri Russeau exhibited his paintings together with other impressionists.
The naïve, childish judgment helps to clear up the final essence, to take away details which make the things more difficult and revulsive.
This sincere impulse which is common to folk art receives art importance and status of the modern creative method. We need to add that primitivism helped to combine new art directions with folk traditions (outrage of clear color, figuration and ornaments) and with children painting, which is so dear to the heart of any person (paintings of P. Klee and some other German expressionists).
Still, to tell the truth, approach of primitivism to masses is quite phantom in many respects: even folk art nowadays seems to consist of two layers: professional sees it in a different way. In fact, primitivism (especially one which approaches to children painting) is stylistic masking of expressionism.
For example, paintings of genius Austrian expressionist Oscar Kokotka remind folk pictures only for specialists. M. Shagal has significantly simplified images of bourgeois which are closer to symbolism. The elevated style of his paintings show contrast with so-called illusive reality of provincial town because of his sketchiness of the painting.
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