Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Exhibition Focuses on The Influence of Primitive Art on European Modernism

Source: Art Fix Daily Exhibition Focuses on The Influence of Primitive Art on European Modernism 

  • A Joan Miró lithograph from 1953 titled "La clé des champs." Edition 100
    A Joan Miró lithograph from 1953 titled "La clé des champs." Edition 100
    Galerie Mourlot
  • Mbundu Mask from Angola, circa late 19th to early 20th Century
    Mbundu Mask from Angola, circa late 19th to early 20th Century
    Cassera Arts Premiers

From May 12th through May 17th 2015, Cassera Arts Premiers in collaboration with Galerie Mourlot will present an exciting exhibition exploring the relationship between Primitive Art and Modern art.  The exhibition will feature museum quality traditional arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas from the gallery of David Cassera juxtaposed with rare lithographs by Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Braque and more from the famous Mourlot Collection.
At the beginning of the 20th century, artists such as Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso, just to name a few, began to explore the art form of lithography. Their interest came through the encouragement of the Atelier Mourlot, a Parisian printshop founded in 1852 by the Mourlot family on rue Saint-Mar in East Paris.

The theme of the exhibiton 'Primitivism' (as referred to by art historians) is a Western art movement that borrows visual forms from non-Western or prehistoric peoples. Borrowings from primitive art has been important to the development of modern art.

During the early 20th century, the European cultural elite were discovering the traditional arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were intrigued and inspired by the stark power and simplicity of styles of those cultures.

Around 1906, Picasso, Matisse, André Derain and other artists in Paris had acquired an interest in 'tribal art', mainly African and Oceanic sculpture and masks, in part because of the compelling works of Paul Gauguin that had suddenly achieved center stage in the avant-garde circles of Paris.

It was determined that Kota reliquary figures from Gabon, which were brought to the Musee de l’Homme in the 1880’s could have been a source of Picasso’s inspiration. An important event recorded by the American expat writer Gertrude Stein in the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1913), mentions how Matisse purchased a small African sculpture known as a Vili figure (Democratic Republic of Congo), at a curio shop on his way to visit her home in 1907. Matisse showed the figure to Picasso who admitted that it later lead to various visits to the African collections at the Trocadéro beginning in June 1907. The African sculptures, he said, had helped him to understand his purpose as a painter, which was not to entertain with decorative images, but to mediate between perceived reality and the creativity of the human mind—to be freed, or “exorcised,” from fear of the unknown by giving form to it. As a result of his introduction to primitive art, Picasso began thinking, taking a more sculptural approach to his painting, resulting in strong, animalistic images.

In 1907, when Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon which features five nude woman, two of them wearing what obviously appear to be African style masks. Picasso also completed a portrait of Gertrude Stein, repainting the face many times ultimately ending his rose period resulting in a hard, masklike style reminiscent of the archaic sculptures from his Iberian homeland. Matisse who also frequented the African display at the Trocadéro museum visited North Africa in 1906. When he returned, he painted two versions of The Young Sailor in which one version featured naturalistically contoured facial features, while the second was clearly a more rigid abstract appearance similar to that of a mask. Some consider these events the birth of Cubism and a defining role in the course of modern art throughout the 20th century, thus questioning the very basis of European modernism and its existence without African and Oceanic influences. During the Cubist period, Picasso continued to incorporate mask-faced figures with fragmented geometric shapes, featured in works such as Bust of a Man 1908, Woman’s Head 1909, and the Standing Female Nude, 1910  which is arguably the greatest cubist drawing ever created. Another artist, a young Italian at the School of Paris named Amedeo Modigliani was introduced to African sculpture by his friend and fellow artist Brancusi. Modigliani was utterly fascinated with the simplicity of African masks and art, which emanates from his portraits. As a sculptor, he left many pieces unfinished, but from this time on, his paintings were far more influenced by what he had learnt through his attempts at sculpture. He mainly adapted stylistic influences from Baule culture in his artworks and often sketched the elongated heart shaped faces of Baule masks and figures.

Don't miss this intimate opportunity to discover how the traditional arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas inspired the great European modern artists like Picasso, Matisse and Miró from May 12th - 17th 2015 during the 6th Annual New York Tribal Art Week. 

Galerie Mourlot, 16 East 79th Street between Fifth and Madison.
Cocktail Reception: Thursday, May 14th from 5pm - 8pm CLICK HERE TO RSVP.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday, May 12th – Saturday, May 16th from 12 - 7pm & Sunday, May 17th from 12 - 5pm.
Cassera Arts Premiers

Press Contact:
David Cassera
Cassera Arts Premiers
P: 3106919391

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