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Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

, Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

As the use of modern technology skyrocketed in the early 20th century, so too did the industrial renaissance lend its influence to a wide variety of disciplines, including music, art, and literature. Neo-primitivism emerged as a primarily Russian art movement in the wake of Aleksandr Shevchenko’s pamphlet Neo-primitivizm, published in 1913. In this work, Shevchenko posits a new hybrid aesthetic that merges characteristics of Futurism, Cubism, and post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. Elements of these styles were then fused with traditional Russian artwork, such as the lubok: a simple graphic that brought together elements of popular tales and religious stories.

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

As with most art movements, Neo-primitivism was a hybrid aesthetic derived from numerous sources that came before it, including primitivism. Early 20th century artists such as Henri Rousseau and Paul Gauguin actively sought the traditions, myths, and histories of primitive and non-Western peoples, eventually incorporating visual influences from their cultures into their own artwork. Like primitivism, Neo-primitivism was at a very basic level concerned with preserving a visual record of cultures prior to industrialization. In the cases of Russia and other advanced Western nations (many of whom had already been profoundly changed by technologies such as the assembly line and the automobile) the aim of many Neo-primitivist artists quickly became concerned with a pastoral revival of sorts, a celebration of rural life and rural values that had contributed to the survival of the Russian people prior to industrialization’s influence.

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

Many art critics assessed many Neo-primitivist works as deliberately churlish, questioning how the rural values celebrated in many of the artists’ pieces actually still had meaningful impact in major metropolitan art scenes, many of which had a population density several times higher than an average country village. Social commentary continued to be lobbed back and forth between cosmopolitan art critics and those artists deeply vested in Neo-primitivism, as each side of the debate engaged in equal parts abhorrence and evangelism. As with any art movement created as a hybrid aesthetic (fused from many historical sources) there were accusations of “recycled content,” or deliberately copied art from other sources. Neo-primitivist artists in turn responded that the folk art created by indigenous peoples had no copyright and couldn’t be anything other than genuine, since folk art functioned as a creative outlet for indigenous artists who often had little or no professional training. Thus, the artists argued that primitivism and Neo-primitivism were ways in which professional artists could re-connect with a deeper, baser form of creativity, choosing natural human curiosity over the highly-structured techniques and training common in European metropolitan areas. 

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

Neo-primitivism and the Hybrid Aesthetic, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau

 

 

 

Keywords: Neo-primitivism, art movement, hybrid aesthetic, art critics, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau