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Neo-Primitivism By Parton, Anthony

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1107-1
Published: 01/10/2016
Retrieved: 12 April 2024, from


Neo-Primitivism is a style-label employed by the Muscovite avant-garde in the early twentieth century to describe forms of visual art and poetry that were tendentiously crude in style and socially and politically contentious in terms of subject matter. In the field of painting, the style was chiefly developed by Mikhail Larionov (1881–1964) and Natalia Goncharova (1881–1962) as well as by members of the Donkey’s Tail and Target groups, of which they were the respective leaders. In poetry, Neo-Primitivism was most consistently explored by Velimir Khlebnikov (1885–1922) and Alexei Kruchenykh (1886–1968), with whom the painters frequently collaborated. Neo-Primitivism was not only oppositional to the polite and refined culture of the status-quo, but it was also intensely nationalistic, seeing itself as the inheritor of indigenous artistic practices that had been erased under the Westernizing reforms of Peter the Great. Whilst initially inspired by Western avant-garde Modernism, the neo-primitives quickly disassociated themselves from Western practices to find inspiration in the soil of Russia. Their aim was to reinvigorate Russian art by reference to the expressive qualities of icon painitng, the lubok (Russian woodcut print), peasant embroidery, the painted tray and signboard, and the ancient Russian fertility statues found in the steppe landscape.

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Parton, Anthony. Neo-Primitivism. Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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