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A Report by Andrew Collins
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Author Topic: ORIENTALISM  (Read 11135 times)
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« on: May 30, 2009, 09:21:43 am »

The desert imagery draws on fascination with the traditional Bedouin ways in the Sahara and the Arabian desert. Here there are countless affectionate equestrian scenes of horsemen and cameleers watering their mounts, resting with them beneath oasis trees and even enjoying (almost certainly imaginary) dancing maidens. The Italian Orientalists, who depicted such scenes with charm and wit as studio painters, not travelers, even painted the women’s hairstyles and shoes with a noticeably fashionable Italian air! Many a hazy sunset landscape is depicted, and sometimes a legendary city like Petra appears on the skyline. Women are shown collecting water, trailing appealing children. In the “desert action” subgenre, Orientalists painted dramatic fantasias of men galloping on horse or camel across the sands, often to attack a trade caravan or raid a rival tribe’s camp.

Other types of more controversial subjects—such as slave markets and nudity—are being bypassed by today’s buyers. Christie’s Alexandra McMorrow comments tactfully that such subjects are “not seen by our clients as genuine.” Mathaf’s MacDermott says that such work would turn off his clients. As art and culture critic Rana Kabbani notes, “This is someone else’s story; someone else’s Orient.”
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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