Among modernists there were artists who supported materialization, and there were ones trying to rebirth spiritual life.
Paul Gauguin was one of those seeking for something spiritual in a new highly commercial world. Desire to find himself, and specifically, to reveal a human savage nature made him interested in those less civilized (from Western point of view) native inhabitants of Brittany first, and later Tahiti painting them in a specific manner that was later called “primitivism”. Some critics think that this way Gaugen was going back to own savage origin (“a savage who must return to the savage”) but Solomon-Godeau sees a more social explanation on Gauguin’s desire: it was a reaction of a civilized colonist, a man from patriarchal society willing to express a power upon colonial, predominantly female savage culture (Solomon-Godeau 120).
Meanwhile, in Germany there was a discussion among intellectuals on the way Germany should choose for a spiritual culture rebirth. Despite dissidence, German artists agreed that modern art should “serve for” German state. Some of artists stood for a turning back to own origins thinking on more conservative themes and forms, and some insisted Germans to look for inspiration from folk culture of non-European colonies to put in expressional forms. According to Lloyd, Emil Nolde was artist fitting both trends, and at the same time none of them because in his art Nolde was inspired by primitive forms and themes considering them eternal, but also trying to engage them with modern concerns (Lloyd 93).
For Nolde that primitive inspiration, a true spiritual origin could be only found in spiritual artifacts hand-made by “primitives” “with actual material in their hands, between their fingers”, with “pleasure and love of creating” (Lloyd 100). And primitives themselves for Nolde were native inhabitants of colonies, yet not those generations of living