Primitivism in Modern Art

Overview

This now classic study maps the profound effect of primitive art on modern, as well as the primitivizing strain in modern art itself. Robert Goldwater describes how and why works by primitive artists attracted modern painters and sculptors, and he delineates the differences between what is truly primitive or archaic and what intentionally embodies such elements.
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Overview

This now classic study maps the profound effect of primitive art on modern, as well as the primitivizing strain in modern art itself. Robert Goldwater describes how and why works by primitive artists attracted modern painters and sculptors, and he delineates the differences between what is truly primitive or archaic and what intentionally embodies such elements.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
This book is admirably thorough. Professor Goldwater's approach to the problems involved remains consistently historical, analytical and descriptive...The investigation...is of lively interest and real importance.
Bloomsbury Review
Goldwater's study, first published in 1938, has become a classic in the field of art history. His descriptions of how and why modern painters and sculptors were attracted to primitive art are essential to understanding artists from Paul Gauguin to Paul Klee.
Art in America
A valuable contribution to contemporary art criticism.
New York Times
Goldwater's book...has remained the definitive account of the artistic impact of primitive art on the art of modern Europe.
Parnassus
A profound critical analysis...After [his] impressive, objective study, Dr. Goldwater is in a position to define primitivism and indicate its underlying assumptions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674281875
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Series: Paperbacks in Art History
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Publisher's Note

Preface to the Revised Edition

Introduction

PART I: PRIMITIVE ART IN EUROPE

1. The Accessibility of the Material

The foundation of museums of ethnology

Their change from "documentary" to "aesthetic" installation

2. The Evaluation of the Art of Primitive Peoples

A historical account and analysis of the attitude of anthropological and ethnological writers toward primitive art: The beginnings of their interest and the growth of the realization of artistic value

PART II: THE PREPARATION

The use of exotic stimuli other than the primitive

Latent primitivism in historicism and exoticism

Primitivizing elements in art nouveau

PART III: ROMANTIC PRIMITIVISM

1. Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven

Direct contact with primitive peoples, and reaction against civilization

Copying of Marquesan art motives

Confusion of the naïve and the primitive

Identification of primitive and European beginnings

Simplification of formal means

Symbolic theories

2. The Primitivism of the Fauves

The "discovery" of African sculpture

Its actual influence

Admiration for popular and children's art

Interest in physical harmony with nature

Simplification and violence of formal methods

PART IV: EMOTIONAL PRIMITIVISM

1. The Brücke

The "discovery" of Oceanic and African art

Its influence and that of medieval art

"Natural" and exotic subject matter; union of man and nature

Emphasis on violent and basic emotions

Simplifications of technique

Emotional and formal immediacy

2. The Primitivism of the Blaue Reiter

Influence of medieval, oriental, primitive, and folk art

Exotic, wild, and provincial subject matter

Formal schematizations and symbolism

Symbolic animism

PART V: INTELLECTUAL PRIMITIVISM

1. The Direct Influence of Primitive Sculpture

Influence on the painting of Picasso

Formal and emotional reasons for this influence

Differences from the primitive in form and content

2. Primitivist Tendencies in Abstract Painting

The search for "basic" forms

The expansion of these forms and the search for "basic" subject matter

Reduction of painting to a lowest common denominator

Similar primitivist elements in cubism, purism, constructivism

VI: THE PRIMITIVISM OF THE SUBCONSCIOUS

1. The Modern Primitives

Contrast of their technique and their vision

Contrast of their achievement and their appreciation

Their relation to primitive art

Similar reasons for their vogue

2. The Child Cult

Its best exemplification the art of Klee

Derivation of form and generalized content

Equation of private and universal meanings

Obliqueness of formal effect

Miró and Dubuffet

3. Dada and Surrealism

Partial origins in automatic, child, and psychopathic art

The search for compelling, pervasive subject matter

Confusion of romantic and primitivist elements

PART VII: PRIMITIVISM IN MODERN SCULPTURE

PART VIII: A DEFINITION OF PRIMITIVISM

The method and intent of a discursive definition

The unifying assumption of primitivism

The development of emotional primitivism

The triple expansion of intellectual primitivism

The endemizing direction of primitivism

Its relation to archaism and romanticism

Indication of its causes

PART IX: JUDGMENTS OF PRIMITIVE ART, 1905-1965

PART X: ART HISTORY AND ANTHROPOLOGY: SOME COMPARISONS OF METHODOLOGY

Appendix: Summary Chronology of Ethnographical Museums and Exhibitions

The Publications of Robert Goldwater (1907-1973)

Index

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