EUROPEAN ART AND THE PRIMITIVE ARTIST
In wide areas of the world, industrialisation has disintegrated the social and economic structure of primitive communities. The natives transferred from their home villages are no longer able to devote themselves to their traditional arts and crafts. Nor are they willing to do so; for modern education, broadcasting, cinemas, etc., have discredited the customs and beliefs in which their art was rooted. Educated natives look down on the superstitions of their ancestors, they resent being called primitive, and in fact the term no longer applies to them.
Already ethnographical dealers find it hard to procure primitive objects of real value. The best of the old works are now in museums and private collections. Most of what is available to-day, is of inferior quality, made carelessly for curio-hunting globe-trotters on modern methods, and with European tools. New Zealand, where the beautiful art of the Maori once flourished, has become a centre for such pseudo-primitive production. Before long, modernisation will have reached the few tribes in Africa, Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia, where genuine primitive art is still alive.
But the populations survive, and with them their innate artistic capacity. So long as primitive men passed as savages, and their works as mere curios, no one took these native talents seriously, but the discovery of the æsthetic value of primitive art, as well as its psychological and social functions, could not fail to attract the attention of educationalists, missionaries and colonial administrators. In Africa, the United States, the Dutch Indies, and in French Indo-China it is now a recognised task of native education