PUMA Museum Collections
The kind of primitive art that influenced Picasso and, after him, the like of Braque, Klee, Matisse, Modigliani, Giacometti, was not really known by them. They considered African statues and pacific masks as : idols " and were ignorant of the symbolism they contained. It is only later on that the function of this art and the complexity of its history became known through anthropologist and other specialist. What the Western artist looked for in this art was what corresponded to their expectation: freedom of color for the Fauvists, simplification of form the German Expressionists and later the Cubists, and expression of the subconscious for the Surrealist. It was not so much an means of discovery of the world than a means of discovery of the self. It was not before a long time that the role of primitive art was fully acknowledged. This was done at an exhibition held at the Moma in 1984. The exhibition, called "Primitivism in Twentieth Century : Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern ", displayed side by side, among others, a portrait of Mr. Matisse and a mask from Gabon ; the "Nose" of Giacometti and a mask from New - Britain : a bronze of Max Ernst and a Ionake mask from Burkina-Faso. This exhibition clearly showed the debt of Modern artists to their anonymous predecessors who have always, for thousand of years, known how to go to the essence of expression through the implication of form.
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