Thursday, January 9, 2014

Primitivism: Paris & Beyond

Interior view of Paris's 
Ethnographic Museum of the Trocadéro,
about 1895.
Its collections moved to the Musée de l'Homme in 1937.

John Ruskin's appreciation of the primitive, as he defined pre-Renaissance frescoes, expanded with modernists who came after him.

The Ethnographic Museum at the Trocadero, founded in 1878, offered Parisians a view of the world's different cultures.

Artist Pablo Picasso in his Paris studio, 1908

Modernists at the turn-of-the-twentieth century gathered much inspiration from the Museum's collection and began buying "primitive art" themselves.

Josephine Baker doing the Charleston

Primitivism was a foundation of avante-garde Paris into the 1930s. American dancer Josephine Baker became a sensation combining primitivism and modernism. Painters created "break-through" imagery by using the perspective, colors and abstractions of the primitive.

Juan Gris, Portrait of Picasso, 1912
Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

Fernand Leger
Woman with a Cat, 1921
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso, 1907
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art

Paul Gauguin, Oviri (Savage)
Gauguin's influences were Oceanic arts.

The increasing nationalism and racism that led to World War II put a damper on European enthusiasm for the "primitive." In the U.S. the fashion persisted through the War with renewed popularity afterwards.

Don The Beachcomber's iconic L.A. restaurant opened in 1931

Trader Vic's began in San Francisco's East Bay
in as Hinky Dink's in 1934.

Post-war British Designers revived the interest in primitive masks

Jacqueline Groag

Robert Stewart, 1954

Masks print by Ray Komai, 1947

All of these influences, high and low, have left us with the Tiki look.

Read Maureen Murphy's essay on primitive art and the modernists in Paris

1 comment:

  1. Thank you!! I really enjoy your little art history lessons.