Definition of primitivism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprimədivˌizəm/


1A belief in the value of what is simple and unsophisticated, expressed as a philosophy of life or through art or literature.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • The contrast here between Rembrandt's tender humanity and Picasso's gross primitivism is striking.
  • We were trying to get away from the stereotypic imagery of romantic primitivism in African American art,’ DePillars said.
2Unsophisticated behavior that is unaffected by objective reasoning.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.



noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • Wheen writes of an ‘incongruous coalition of postmodernists and primitivists, New Age and Old Testament’, the leaders of which have been ‘remarkably effective over the past quarter-century’.
  • The music from the African part of the program has so far made me a little uncomfortable, because it is so loaded with primitivist stereotypes, and so ‘big’ and theatrical.
  • John Fahey, the pioneering primitivist of the folk-blues guitar, died two years ago, at 60, and on these, his final recordings, he seems to have been searching for some sort of resolution.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: prim·i·tiv·ism

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