A term that has been used to refer to the art of various historical European periods and of non-Western societies. In the mid-19th century, it was primarily applied to 14th and 15th century Italian and Flemish art, which modern artists prized for what they saw as its simplicity, sincerity, and expressive power. Use of the term then broadened to encompass a range of non-Western art, sweeping from South America to Southeast Asia. At the beginning of the 20th century, European artists embraced African and Oceanic masks and statuary and the term came to be associated with work from these regions. Such work deeply impacted these artists, who perceived in it a physical directness and emotional charge that they found exciting and distinct. By the late 20th century the term, with its derogatory connotations, fell out of favor.


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