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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.

IMAGE:
François-Léon Benouville,
Portrait of Leconte de Floris in an Egyptian Uniform, 1840,
oil on canvas


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