British Museum to explore Islamic world’s impact on western art


British Museum to explore Islamic world’s impact on western art

An art tradition sometimes dismissed as perpetuating lazy stereotypes about the east will soon – the British Museum hopes – be seen in a different light thanks to a major exhibition exploring how western artists have been inspired by the Islamic world. The museum has announced details of a show that will have the tradition of Orientalism at its core.

That term for many people is highly charged, bringing to mind patronising 19th-century oil paintings by colonialist artists depicting a version of life in the Middle East that often did not exist.

The exhibition is being held in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur which is lending about half the exhibits in the show, many being shown outside Malaysia for the first time. The exhibition will acknowledge that some 19th-century Orientalist works blurred the lines between fantasy and reality by showing a stereotyped view of the east, whether that was barbaric behavior or a scene of people sitting around drinking coffee with no cares or work to do. But there is a much longer and richer history to be explored, say curators.

But it is not just the visual arts: curators are promising exhibits exploring photography, theatre, glass, jewelry, music, clothing and ceramics. Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum, said the artistic relationship over five centuries had “influenced an astonishing diversity of material culture. This major exhibition will highlight just how extensive and enduring the cultural exchange between the west and Islamic world has been.”

Source: The Guardian

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