“The masks were not simple sculptures. At all. They were magical.” Pablo Picasso, 1937
The catalogue is a companion piece to the exhibition Je suis l’autre. Giacometti, Picasso e gli Altri. Il Primitivismo nella Scultura del Novecento, held in Rome, at the halls of Diocletian’s Baths, from 28th September 2018 to 20th January 2019.
From 1860 onwards, partially due to colonialism, the introduction of “other cultures” to the western world caused a true revolution in the art world. Primitivism was a “revelation” that opened the doors to a flood of new artistic experimentation, formal and linguistic intuition, and feelings that would otherwise have been left unvoiced.
In the 1920s and 30s the beauty of ethnic art from Africa and Oceania became a part of the revolutionary style that gradually pervaded the arts, cinema, theatre, music, dance, fashion and advertising.
The introductive essays written by the curators, Francesco Paolo Campione and Maria Grazia Messina, delve into the preludes of this trend, starting with the discovery by artists like Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi, Modigliani, Laurens and the German group Die Brücke of art nègre in the years before WWI.
Other essays include Alessandro Del Puppo’s study on the contaminations between “worldly” primitivism and surrealist aesthetics; Marco Fagioli on Primitivism in relation to European sculpture; Carsten Juhl on the aesthetic and ritualistic meaning of sculpture, while Chiara Fabi delves deeper into the themes of the sources of Primitivism within Italian culture in the 1920s and 30s.