Definition of primitivism in US English:



  • 1A belief in the value of what is simple and unsophisticated, expressed as a philosophy of life or through art or literature.

    • ‘The contrast here between Rembrandt's tender humanity and Picasso's gross primitivism is striking.’
    • ‘This transposition of ethnological themes onto contemporary life is a form of domestic primitivism: the use of ethnographic narratives of social origins to explain elements of modern life.’
    • ‘This, according to environmental primitivism, is the perfect, aboriginal state of nature.’
    • ‘We were trying to get away from the stereotypic imagery of romantic primitivism in African American art,’ DePillars said.’
    • ‘Inspired by primitivism and American folk art, he painted idealized images of homespun America.’
    • ‘Peter Gabriel's world sound (from his album Passion) intensifies the atmosphere of generic primitivism, although bowls and other props identify the setting as Africa.’
    • ‘The literary primitivism of the 1920s, of which McKay was a part, largely expired with the decade, and his novels were little read in succeeding years.’
    • ‘A later generation of Modern artists like Picasso, Miro and Klee were inspired by the primitivism and ‘savage’ aesthetic of African and Oceanic masks.’
    • ‘This conceptual version of ornament can be regarded either as an extreme case of primitivism or, just as convincingly, as the ultimate in sophistication.’
    • ‘The independent Expressionist artist Paula Modersohn-Becker took this philosophy to heart by living in a community of artists at Worpswede, where she painted the local peasant life with an earthy and expressive German primitivism.’
    • ‘For example, Australia's Peter Griffen uses complex layering, decorative patterning, primitivism, and vibrant color to evoke Australia's Western Desert and Aboriginal culture.’
    • ‘Twentieth-century Afrocentrics like Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, and their colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance embraced primitivism in a way their nineteenth-century predecessors simply could not.’
    • ‘Rejecting interpretations that attribute Pentecostalism's success to its otherworldiness, Wacker argues that the genius of the early movement was its mixture of primitivism and pragmatism.’
    • ‘The inclusion of early paintings and drawings, produced shortly after her graduation from Yale in 1959, provides a sense of her beginnings as a young artist in awe of Abstract Expressionism and the primitivism of Jean Dubuffet.’
    • ‘Where Duerden was concerned with the inauthenticity of Makonde sculpture as an expression of tradition, Chambers alleged that mock primitivism rendered these works insignificant as modern art.’
    • ‘Weege's draftmanship has a kind of precise naivete - an intentional primitivism that is at once accurate and sharply distorted.’
    • ‘Contrary to the fantasies of romantic primitivism, civilisation and development have made our species more knowledgeable and sensitive about the workings of nature.’
    • ‘In well-crafted chapters, Blake describes the interaction between primitivism and the fauvists, cubists, Dadaists, surrealists, and, lastly, purists.’
    • ‘Such now familiar terms as Orientalism and primitivism, while they mark the beginning of a consensus, are by no means completely defined or delimited.’
    • ‘He uses primitivism in his writings as a political weapon against the dominant white hierarchy, only to reject it simultaneously as an answer to the knotty problem of identity.’
  • 2Unsophisticated behavior that is unaffected by objective reasoning.

    • ‘Plagued by tribal warfare, autocratic and murderous government, and an inefficient and corruption - ridden economy, it is trapped on the bloody borderland between primitivism and civilization.’
    • ‘During the 800 years of the Dark Ages, Europe sunk back into primitivism, until the Renaissance broke the grip of superstition and the march of modern civilisation continued, after the long break.’
    • ‘Barthes's text is a melancholic testament to the horror and fascination Westerners have felt in reaction to the primitivism ushered in by their own civilization, its modernity and its explosive production of mimetic technologies.’
    • ‘A recent study of his Berlin period has noted how this bourgeois elite was fascinated by Kirchner's choice to abandon his bourgeois background for the primitivism and poverty that they witnessed in his studio.’
    • ‘To add to the novel's air of primitivism, the editors reproduce a page of the sloppy original manuscript.’