The term primitivism was first defined by the Websters Dictionary 1934 as a "belief" in the superioty of primitive life which, implies a " return to nature!" Primitive refers to someone or something less complex or less advanced than the preson or thing that it is being compared with. The primitive can be seen as simple and naive, as in childlike.
To look at Gauguin's influence of primitivism on modern art, it is important to understand that his focus was not to understand the primitive but more about his needs to reject western civilization. With the spread of industrialisation and with this materialism, Gauguin became very restless with urban life in Paris. It is his great need to escape and his search for happiness that attracts him to a more simple lifestyle. Part of his attraction could be his memories of his childhood where his life was less stressful. Gauguin's rejection of western Art is explained in his letter, " I have gone back, further back tehn the horses of the Parthenon. as far back as Dado of my babyhood, the good rocking horse.".
Gaugions work moves away from impressionism quickly as he borrowed many influences from several sources around him. He borrowed from feloow impressionist artists, Japenese woodcuts, Egyptians, Medievil and of course the Primitive. In Europe at this time there was a growing fascination for their tribal neighbours and artefacts. Museums werer starting to pop up so to house the states collections of these art forms Gauguin visitied these exhibitions and along with other artstist he was seduced by the exotism, the romantic of a remote life in Paradise.
Symbolist music and poetry was aslo emerging at this time. French Poet Albert Aurcier in his poems "L'Eavre Maudit" represented artists who were breaking away from traditional concepts of realism, " Darggin the ball and chain of our denied masterpieces!" and " Lets wander by night, alone without lamb or candle.