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"A Distant Muse: Orientalist Works from the Dahesh Museum of Art"
2000-09-05 until 2000-12-30
Dahesh Museum of Art
New York, NY,
USA United States of America
171 years later Victor Hugo's words appear extraordinarily prescient. Today, the
worlds of the Orient and the Occident are deeply intertwined. The nature of their
relationship remains a matter of fervent discussion and much misunderstanding.
The term Orientalism has been applied, geographically, to areas from Spain to the
Far East and chronologically, from antiquity to the present day. The term
Occidentalism is usually applied to Western Europe, and by extension North America,
but only from the Renaissance to the present day.
In Louis XIV's time one was a Hellenist, now one is an Orientalist. ... For empires as
for literatures, perhaps it will not be too long before the Orient is called upon to play a
role in the Occident.
--Victor Hugo, Les Orientales, 1829
As an art-historical phenomenon Occidentalism developed in the 18th and 19th
centuries and is associated with the declining world of the Ottoman Empire, which, at
its peak, ruled an area extending from Eastern Europe through Turkey and the Middle
East to North Africa. While Europeans created what they considered to be Orientalist
views of this world, the Empire itself became increasingly westernized in its aesthetic
interests and social structure.
We are pleased to bring back for this exhibition Gustav Bauernfeind's masterpiece,
Jaffa, Recruiting of Turkish Soldiers in Palestine. His vast panoply of Orientalist life in
Jaffa is dominated by a modern battleship, a Western rather than Eastern symbol.
Drawn entirely from the Dahesh Museum's permanent collection of paintings,
sculpture, prints and photographs, Occidentalism will examine the appropriation of
European imagery by Middle-Eastern society and the works of art that resulted.
Portrait of Leconte de
Floris in an Egyptian Uniform, 1840,
oil on canvas