| THE ORIENT
in western art
"The color of the Orient. the smell of the Orient. its remoteness, its mystery, its glory. Another life, another dream of a life" Georges Clairin (1843-1919)
Stretching from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Indian Ocean, this region of near endless sun and sand, punctuated by brilliant colors and ancient forms, has become synonymous in the West with the foreign and the exotic. From the days of the crusades and caravans crisscrossing continents to destinations further east, the Orient has held a special position in relation to Europe and the West. It is the birthplace of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the origin of western civilization, the inspiration for fantastical fairytales, and often a source of misunderstanding and fear. The Orient is both the West's cultural constant and its longest-existing image of the "Other."
The oriental motif is a recurring theme in western painting. From the Renaissance with its awakening interest in ancient cultures and art to the 18th century with its Grand Tours and "Turkish fashion," the oriental theme has not only documented artists' travels to the East, but has projected the wishes, desires and imagination of the West. From ethnographic etchings to exaggerated displays of the sultans' splendor, this paradox of fact and fantasy culminated in the 19th century with the genre Orientalism. Napoleon's conquest of Egypt, European colonization, and archaeological excavations opened up the region to numerous artists such as Decamps, Delacroix, Fromentin, Ingres, Lear, and Hunt, whose most famous works express oriental imagery.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Orient began to lose its importance as a cultural paradigm in Western art. The Post-Impressionist artists Kandinsky, Macke, Matisse, and Picasso
The Orient in Western Art presents the emergence and development of an artistic motif accompanied by explanations of social and cultural history.
ORIENTALISM IN THE 18th CENTURY
ORIENTALISM IN THE 19th CENTURY
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