Naïve art is a style of visual art that typically features childlike subject matter, simplistic techniques, and cartoonish aesthetics. Primitivism is art created by a trained, professional artist but made to look childlike.
Folk art is any form of visual art created by people from a distinct cultural context or tradition. Generally, the objects creative have a practical use rather than being exclusively decorative.
Naïve art, primitivism, and folk art all emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as reactions to the rapidly changing cultural landscape of Europe. By focusing on unsophisticated subjects such as children or peasants, these artists took a critical stance against traditional academic values and conventions.
Primitivism was popularized by Henri Rousseau. His paintings were mostly inspired by dreams and imagination rather than real-world experience. In fact, Rousseau never left France, but he was able to create paintings that depicted exotic locations from his mind. His work influenced other artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, who both experimented with folk art and primitivism in their own works.
This style of art was particularly embraced by the avant-garde movement, which sought new and innovative forms of expression. This can be seen in the work of artists like Max Ernst and Joan Miró, both of whom created works that were inspired by children’s drawings and other primitive forms of art.