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Author Topic: ORIENTALISM  (Read 11135 times)
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« on: May 30, 2009, 08:48:27 am »


Orientalism is a category of fine-art painting done by western artists, primarily Europeans, who painted people and places in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa. The term “Orientalist” was first popularized in 1893, at the first salon of the Société des Peintres Français Orientalistes in Paris, though the genre had existed since the early 19th century. While some Orientalist painters worked from careful firsthand observation, others created fantasies in their studios; some devoted themselves to realism, others to romanticism. Most worked the region in between.

Orientalist paintings sold well enough to stimulate an abundance of production and, inevitably, much second-rate work. By the late 19th century, Orientalists had defined themselves not only by their subject matter, but also by clinging to representational painting when impressionists were taking the avant garde toward abstraction. (One partial exception among the Orientalists was Jacques Majorelle.) As a result, Orientalist painting had fallen out of fashion by the early 1930’s. Prices plummeted. The genre became so marginalized and devalued that many museums and private owners sold off part or all of their collections.

The “Orient” of the Orientalists was defined largely by the era of steam travel, the time when European tourism first flourished around the Muslim Mediterranean. Like many of the archeologists and scholars who also flocked to the region in that era, many of the Orientalist artists developed respect and liking for the peoples and cultures among which they traveled, and some settled there permanently. Later Orientalists, notably Jean-Léon Gérôme, Ludwig Deutsch, Rudolf Ernst and John Frederick Lewis, produced portraits that today appear every bit as sympathetic to their subjects as they would have been to fellow Europeans.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 08:51:30 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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