Art Styles in 20th century Art Map




see also:

Edward Hicks
Ammi Phillips
Erastus Salisbury Field
Henri Rousseau
Grandma Moses
John Kane
Niko Pirosmani
Henry Darger
Maud Lewis
Nina Barka
Ivan Generalic
Ivan Rabuzin
Charles Wysocki
Josip Generalic
Adrie Martens



I. Birth of Naive Art

II. Back to the Sources: From the Primitives to Modern Art

III. Discoveries in the East

Conclusion: Is Naive Art Really Naive?




III. Discoveries in the East


Louis Vivin

(Hadol, 1861 - Paris, 1936)

Fascinated by drawing from a very young age, Louis Vivin studied fine arts at the secondary school of Epinal. Then, without financial means, he worked as an itinerant for the postal service. He will travel the roads of France for thirty years and will not be able to draw until his retirement.

Like many others, he was discovered by Wilhelm Uhde who organised an exhibition of his work, gaining public interest. His obsession was for detail and multiplying, and his thoroughness was often emulated by other naive artists. It is one of the rare constants that one can find in this movement. He painted numerous views of the capital, striving to paint every slate on the roofs, every leaf on the trees; hunting scenes, etc.

His interest in animals underline also the nostalgia of childhood, specific to naive artists, animal representation being often used as a subject. He was notably known for his use of geometric lines. Dina Vierny will say of him that he was "the cleanest and most poetic of naive artists [...] the Mallarme of naive art". With Seraphine de Senlis, Camille Bombois and Andre Bauchant, he belonged to the group of painters that Uhde called the painters of the 'Sacred Heart' for whom he would organise an exhibition: "Instead of calling them 'Sunday painters', which would be incorrect, or 'popular painters' which does not say enough, it would be more just to name them 'painters of the Sacred heart'. Not only because they live around the white luminous basilica of Sacre-Cu'ur, which they represent frequently like its elder and more elegant sister, Notre-Dame, but above all, because, full of simple love and modesty, they create their work with a strong and pious heart."

Louis Vivin, Still-Life with Butterflies and Flowers


Louis Vivin, The Opera in Paris


Louis Vivin, Gate Saint-Martin


Louis Vivin, The Hunter's Picnic


Louis Vivin, Hunting the Beast


Louis Vivin, The Burial of My Father, 1925


Jean Eve (Somain, 1900 - Louveciennes, 1968)

Like a number of naive painters, most of them in fact, Jean Eve came from a modest background. Maximilian Gauthier in his preface in the catalogue for the famous exhibition The Popular Masters of Reality which took place in 1937, rightly wrote that history: "had ceased to occupy itself exclusively with the great to interest itself in the humble. Jean Eve was the son of a miner. He became a mechanic and was then employed in the toll collectors' office like the Douanier Rousseau. His attention to detail, his delicate line and his point of view of nature shows his will to celebrate simplicity and daily happiness. His representations of villages or hamlets are an echo to our joys of yore. The calm that appears through his canvases underlines the tranquillity and the detachment with which those "recreational" artist painted. Indeed, the naive painters were more worried about their environment than about their hypothetical prosperity. This being so, the utilisation of technique in his painting, such as perspective, made him an artist on the border of the movement.

Jean Eve, Spring in Bus-Saint-Remy


Jean Eve, Landscape in the Snow


Seraphine Louis
, also called Seraphine de Senlis (Arsy, 1864 - Clermont, 1942)

Having lost her parents at a young age, Seraphine Louis had to find work on a farm as a shepherd, before becoming a chamber maid in Senlis, the town from which she took her pseudonym. Like a number of naive painters, she came to painting late, at around the age of forty. The critic Wilhelm Uhde, who was the first person to be interested in and encourage the naive painters, realised one day after buying a naive painting in a gallery that the artist was none other than his cleaner! He bought the materials in order to encourage her to paint. Fruit and flowers with painstaking outlines fill her dense paintings rich in lively and luminous colour. These explosions of colour which constantly spring up give a rare intensity to her paintings and to the sentiment the}' provoke. Imagination wins over, defying the laws of perspective and any rationality.

This is why Uhde said of her works: "Seraphine's trees have sometimes shells for leaves and take on the form of marine animals. These trees, which have never existed and which will never exist, we see them live like human beings"."' The Tree of Paradise and the Red Tree are among her best known canvases. Seraphine de Senlis participated in the 'Sacred heart' exhibition which united the best naive artists of the time and whose organiser was none other than Wilhelm Udhe. The stained glass windows of the church of Senlis also had a diffused influence on all her work. Mystical and very pious, she worked most of the time by candle light in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Her works are full of spirituality and ecstasy, giving mystery to her still life painting as if full of a presence. She will even dedicate some of her works to Mary. Mentally unstable, Seraphine who had hallucinations (particularly about the end of the world), will end up in a mental institution.

Seraphine Louis, Bouquet, 1927


Seraphine Louis, Yellow Flowers and Red Leaves


Dominique Peyronnet
(1872 - 1943)

Before becoming a painter Dominique Peyronnet was a lithographer, which explains the quality and graphic precision of his drawings. This French artist was not prolific, only producing around thirty paintings. Hi.s favourite subjects were seascapes and wooded nocturnal landscapes. His line is lively and precise, his waves seem to be traced, cut out and fixed in time, and his colours remain enticing. The precision of his lines that seem to suspend time on the edge of the canvas, give his work a sensation of enchantment and eeriness. The dilatation which exists between intention and realisation creates in the work of the naive artists and that of Peyronnet in particular, a strange and poetic feeling. From this shift comes the unexpected. This troubled atmosphere distinguishes his work and gives it an energy that few artists managed to keep. We then understand why the surrealists for whom painting must 'make our abstract knowledge itself make a step forward' became interested in naive art

Dominique Peyronnet, Lunch by the Water


Dominique Peyronnet, Summer Siesta, 1933


Andre Bauchant
(Chateau-Renault, 1873 - Montoire, 1958)

From a modest upbringing, Andre Bauchant became a nurseryman before being drafted into the military to fight in the Dardanelles. It was only on his return from the war in 1919 that he began to paint. Fascinated from childhood by the Greco-Roman civilisation thanks to reading old illustrated books, his poetic paintings have the taste for fantasy and the grotesque. In 1921, his paintings shown at the Salon d'automne were a great success. Le Corbusier was his first buyer. Thanks to his intervention, he was offered a commission from Diaghilev to create costumes for the ballet Apollo by Stravinsky. One finds in his world many nymphs and deities. As a trained nurseryman, his brightly coloured paintings also often depict fruit and flowers of a disproportional size. One of the particularities of his technique is that he always began painting his canvases from the bottom, like he has learned in his job as a cultivator: "a plant lives only from its roots, everything is in the base, if it is solid, your painting will be an accomplishment, otherwise it will be unable to live", he often explained.

Andre Bauchant, The Gardener in the Flowers, 1922


Andre Bauchant, Bouquet of Flowers, 1922


Andre Bauchant,
Mother and Child


Andre Bauchant, Portrait of a Man, 1923


Andre Bauchant, The School Boy, 1925


Rene Martin Rimbert
(1896 - 1991)

Employed by the Post Office, Rene Martin Rimbert is one of the most well known naive artists. "My painting appeals to connoisseurs and simple people who talk about it with feeling", he declared one day. He paints his daily life with simplicity and tries to achieve his work in a personal and autonomous manner. Naive artists were solitary artists who engaged in painting while nothing, and above all their social background, predisposed them to it. Ignorant of all the principles of painting, their art is above all an intimate experience, it is perhaps for this reason that clumsiness vanishes for the profit of emotion. The specialty of Rene Martin Rimbert was urban landscape. His paintings are an important testimony regarding the growing presence of modernity within the urban landscape of the time, which remind us of the paintings by the Douanier Rousseau. Many of these works evoke the silent life which takes places behind the curtains of these windows. The poetry of his paintings lies in an offset and 'off-centre' subject which is evoked without being condemned. His cold tones where the subject is plunged into the anonymous and the suspension of time remind us of a Magritte or a Hopper. There are worse references... A complete artist, Rene Martin Rimbert was also a great poet.

Rene Martin Rimbert, Street Scene, 1972


Rene Martin Rimbert, The Storm, 1949


Camille Bombois
(Venaray-les-Laumes, 1883-Paris, 1970)

Despite his precocious attraction to painting, the family financial difficulties meant that Camille Bombois had to work from a very young age. Working as a farmhand and sailor, he then became a wrestler in a fun fair in order to be able to travel to Paris. On his arrival, he works in the tunnels of the Parisian Metro and then finds a job working nights at a printer's so he could spend all day painting. After military service in the First World War where he showed great courage and bravery, (he was awarded three medals), he discovers that his wife had sold some of his paintings in order to survive.

In 1922, he meets Wilhelm Uhde who opened the door for him to critical acclaim and success. He can at last spend his time as a full-time painter. He belongs to the inner circle of the five most reputed naive painters in France, named the 'painters of the Sacred Heart' by Wilhelm Uhde. His most famous paintings are without doubt those of the circus which are appreciated for their energetic drawing, their vivacity of tone and precision of line. His dynamic characters, his sword swallowers, his athletes, like Athlete at the Carnival, The Wrestlers, his fleshy women are all memories from his childhood.

His waterside landscapes, View of Clerval and The Canal show his attention to detail, the precision of foliage, and reflections in water which accompany the eye of the spectator. All this underlines his sense of observation; The Sacred Heart is also a testimony to the activity of the square in Montmartre. Skipping ropes, housewives and 'bourgeois' women chatting on a sunlit bench... All is there to remind us of the good atmosphere of a Sunday afternoon. Camille Bombois is without doubt one of the artists whose art resembles most, that of the Douanier Rousseau. Wilhelm Uhde said of him: "It is only in the work of Bombois that reality is a true raison d'etre, a goal in itself [...]] He paints true life, what he sees, what he loves spontaneously in daily life."

Camille Bombois, Fratellino and Little Walter


Camille Bombois, The Athlete, 1930


Camille Bombois, Naked Woman Sitting, 1936


Camille Bombois, Nude on a Red Cushion


Camille Bombois, In the Bistro


Camille Bombois, In the Brothel


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