Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Exhibition: Le genie de l'orient, l'Europe moderne et les arts de l'Islam

Al Ahram Weekly (David Tresilian)

Far from giving rise to nostalgic reverie, the Islamic arts could have been the foundation of an 'oriental renaissance' in 19th century Europe, writes David Tresilian in Lyon

Closing last month after a three-month stint at the Musee des beaux-arts in the southern French city of Lyon, Le genie de l'Orient, l'Europe moderne et les arts de l'Islam was an ambitious, wide-ranging exhibition that invited visitors to rethink much of what they might have been told about the relationship between Europe and the Islamic world in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including about the sometimes thorny topic of European orientalism.

While the exhibition included materials from the fine and visual arts, notably from the orientalist picture-making associated with the French painter Jean-Leon Gerome, the emphasis of the exhibition lay with the European decorative arts and particularly with what European designers, architects and decorators may have been looking for in the arts of Islam and what they may have taken from them.

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