Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review – Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art at the British Museum from 10 October 2019 – 26 January 2020

Exhibition Review – Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art at the British Museum from 10 October 2019 – 26 January 2020

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The British Museum presents a new exhibition which explores how western artists have been inspired by the Islamic world. The exhibition entitled Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art covers five centuries of artistic interaction and charts the long and complex cultural interactions between Europe and North America in the ‘west’, and North Africa and the Middle East in the ‘east’.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition centres on the tradition known as Orientalism, which developed in the ‘west and often offered a representation of the east that was considered ‘exotic’ and ‘mysterious’. Orientalism was at its peak during the 19th century when western artists and writers began visiting the Middle East and North Africa in greater numbers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition seeks to trace the origins of Orientalism back much further, to the 1500s. It also provides evidence that Orientalism was not just restricted to painting but influenced many types of visual and decorative arts such as ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery, manuscripts, clothing and contemporary art.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A section of the exhibition explores how artists from the Islamic world were influenced by European artistic styles and technologies like photography to create work that was often supported by social elites in the region. Highlights of this section include works by Ottoman photographer Pascal Sébah, and a number of decorated portrait medals from the Middle East, heavily influenced by European styles.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Objects from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia and key objects from the British Museum’s Islamic collection illustrate this story of cultural exchanges. Highlights include paintings by leading Orientalists including Eugène Delacroix, John Frederick Lewis and Frederick Arthur Bridgman with British artist Edmund Dulac’s original illustrations for a 1907 edition of the Arabian Nights, and ceramics by Théodore Deck, a leading French ceramicist in the late nineteenth century.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Orientalism is now often considered with some suspicion and often associated with a distorted view of Islamic culture. To recognise this, the exhibition concludes with four contemporary reactions to the imagery of Orientalism by Middle Eastern and North African female artists. These works including Lalla Essaydi’s Women of Morocco triptych and Inci Eviner’s 2009 video work Harem.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating exhibition illustrates that the cultural exchange between any societies is often fraught with misunderstandings and prejudices. This was certainly the case with Orientalism which developed against the backdrop of considerable distrust between the Christian and Islamic world. Even in the Middle Ages, the scientific advances, craftsmanship and high learning of the Islamic world were well known, however it was not till the 19th century that people visited the Middle East and North Africa in greater numbers. Some of the earliest visitors were writers and artists who often exaggerated the ‘exotic’ to sell their works and colonialists who sought to promote European culture over indigenous cultures. Against this background it is not surprising that Orientalism is a controversial term in the modern world.

After its run at the British Museum, the exhibition will open at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia from 20 June – 22 October 2020.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.

Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.

We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.

There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.

To find out more visit the website here

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow me on Twitter

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: