Volume 2014, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2221-9048
  • EISSN:


This paper examines the transformative role of Orientalism – a form of visual, literary, and ideological hybrid making that has impacted East/West perceptions and relations from the nineteenth century to the present day—in historical and contemporary terms. It focuses on post-colonial revisions of Orientalism and its varied meanings, as evidenced by 1) the recently expanded body of scholarship on this topic; 2) the acquisition of important Orientalist works by museums and collectors in North Africa and the Gulf region, and 3) the appropriation and re-making of Orientalist imagery by contemporary Arab artists such as Lalla Essaydi. While interrogating Orientalism's colonialist and hegemonic affiliations, this paper also underscores the richness and complexity of the East/West cultural dialogue it has engendered.

This paper was presented as part of the Tasmeem Exploration Platform on March 17, 2013.


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  1. Edward Said. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books 1978;, 2.
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  7. Nochlin. “The Imaginary Orient.” 39. For a more recent consideration of Gerome's work, see Mary Morton, editor, Reconsidering Gerome. Los Angeles: Getty Publishing, 2010.
  8. Quoted in Roger Benjamin, Orientalism: Delacroix to Klee. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1997. 33.
  9. Bill Turque. “Once-Reviled Orientalist Art Inspires Egyptian Industrialist to Improve East-West Relations.” The Washington Post. February 21, 2013. Accessed: 1 March 2013 [http://articles. washingtonpost.com/2013-02-21/entertainment/].
  10. Michel Lebrun. “Seeing Orientalist Art as an Aid to East-West Dialogue,” The New York Times (November 29, 2012). Web 1 March 2013. [http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/seeing-orientalist-art-as-aid-to-east-west-dialogue].
  11. Lalla Essaydi. “Artist Statement,” Les Femmes du Maroc (New York: Powerhouse Books, 2009), 17.
  12. Essaydi. “Artist Statement.” 16.
  13. Essaydi. “Artist Statement.” 17.
  14. Assia Djebar. The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. Charlottesville, Va: University of Virginia Press, 1992. See final chapter: “Forbidden Gaze, Severed Sound.” (Djebar's literary re-vision of Delacroix's 1834 painting provides yet another perspective on the original image.).
  15. Mr. Gabr's collecting practices surely reflect his interest in historical genre scenes, while Ms. Essaydi's most direct engagement is with many of the more “exotic” and provocative Orientalist images of women by artists such as Delacroix and Ingres. Their divergent interests underscore the wide range of subjects, styles, artists' experiences, etc. found in nineteenth-century Orientalist painting.

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