Islamic art, literature and traditions piqued the Victorian imagination in particular, partly due to increased travel to north Africa and the near east. Artists such as Delacroix, Ingres and John Frederick Lewis were captivated by the idea of bustling bazaars, warm evenings and new decorative motifs. We now call this influence orientalism, but this is a problematic term. Orientalism interpreted Islamic cultures through a western filter, presenting the people of the ‘east’ as exotic – and often erotic – curiosities.
Left: Bottle in the Persian (late Safavid) style. France, late 1800s. © Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. Right: Unknown Qajar artist, Portrait medal of Muhammad Shah Qajar, c.1835–40. © Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.
But this exhibition will look at more than just painting. With loans from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Inspired by the East will demonstrate how Islamic art has influenced western ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery and clothing as far back as the 1500s.
The exhibition will conclude with contemporary reactions to orientalism with works by artists from the Middle East and north Africa. Lalla Essaydi’s Women of Morocco triptych will be in included alongside Inci Eviner’s 2009 video Harem. These women will help provide a foil to the orientalist view of the Islamic world, bringing a much needed female perspective to western ideas of the east.
|What||Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art, British Museum|
|Where||British Museum, Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3DG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
10 Oct 19 – 26 Jan 20, Open daily 10am – 5pm
|Website||click here for more information|