Exhibition | Inspired by the East

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 30, 2019

Now on view at The British Museum:

Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art
The British Museum, London, 10 October 2019 — 26 January 2020
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 20 June — 20 October 2020

Curated by Julia Tugwell and Olivia Threlkeld

Levni (active ca. 1703–1730), leading artist at the court of Sultan Ahmet III, A European Gentleman in a Red Coat, Ottoman School painting, Turkey, early eighteenth century (London: The British Museum, 1960,1112,0.2).

Charting the fascinating history of cultural and artistic interactions between East and West, this exhibition explores the impact the Islamic world has had on Western art for centuries. Artistic exchange between East and West has a long and intertwined history, and the exhibition picks these stories up from the 15th century, following cultural interactions that can still be felt today. Objects from Europe, North America, the Middle East, and North Africa highlight a centuries-old tradition of influence and exchange from East to West. The diverse selection of objects includes ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery, and clothing, as well as contemporary art, showcasing how artistic exchange influenced a variety of visual and decorative arts. The exhibition concludes with a 21st-century perspective, through the eyes of four female artists from the Middle East and North Africa who continue to question and subvert the idea of Orientalism in their work and explore the subject of Muslim female identity.

The show takes a deeper look at the art movement of Orientalism—specifically the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were represented as lands of beauty and intrigue, especially in European and North American art. Reaching its height during the 19th century, this genre often blurred the lines between fantasy and reality—and as Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said argued—often misrepresenting life in the so-called ‘Orient’. This exhibition seeks to demonstrate a longer, more complex history of influence and inspiration from 1500 through to present day. An exchange of art and ideas which may have been driven by interests such as pilgrimage, warfare, diplomatic encounters, colonial interests, or simply an interest in adapting artistic techniques.

Conceived and developed in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art includes generous loans from their extensive collection of Islamic and Orientalist art. The exhibition and collaboration highlight centuries of cultural exchange between East and West and its continuing importance today. It will be on display at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), Kuala Lumpur, from 20 June to 20 October 2020.

Curators Julia Tugwell and Olivia Threlkeld provide more information here»

William Greenwood and Lucien de Guise, eds., Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (London: British Museum Press, 2019), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0714111933, £30.


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