Pablo Picasso used primitivism as a tool to break barriers between the traditional and the modern. He established a new and grotesque way of defining art that appealed to the "intellectual primitivism" that was in complete contrast to civilized society and "as such a threat to it" in early twentieth century France.

According to Goldwater, "intellectual primitivism is informed by the geometric rhythmic forms of African sculpture." Primitivism was a developing idea at the beginning of the 20th century.

Starting with Goaguin, the primitivist viewpoint took root in artists' works and gave life to European art. Of course, this viewpoint was that of the artists' reflecting outward towards the viewer, the fascination being with Africa and all things African; "indiscriminately referred to African, Oceanic, and Native American as art negre."

This reflection jumpstarted a revolution in the art world that has transcended to the present. This fascination with l'art negre led Picasso to create some of his most primitive paintings, one of which was the Composition with a Skull. Along with other paintings on 1907 and 1908, this study shows Picasso's interest in Africanizing or developing art as a "creation in itself" as Guillaume puts it.