In What Ways Does What Edward Said Calls Orientalism Affect Art and Art History - Essay Example

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This paper "In What Ways Does What Edward Said Calls Orientalism Affect Art and Art History?" focuses on the fact that Orientalism, which refers to an artistic replication or portrayal of the aspects of the culture of the East in the art and literature of the West, was given new layers of meaning.  …
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In What Ways Does What Edward Said Calls Orientalism Affect Art and Art History
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Download file to see previous pages Whereas several other writers and thinkers had written histories of empire and colonialism, most of these writings were not post-colonial as they still proceeded from the point of view of the centre rather than the margin. The publication of Said's Orientalism was central to the exact awareness of the concept and this work marks the opening of post-colonialism. The definition of the term Orientalism by Edward Said suggests the originality of the subject dealt with in his book. According to the straightforward definition of the term, Orientalism refers to an academic specialisation and it is a topic studied by the archaeologists, historians, theologians and others in the West, who are concerned with Middle Eastern and North African cultures. However, Edward Said gives new meanings and interpretations to the term when adds two further meaning to the term. "Orientalism is also something more general, something that has shaped Western thought since Greeks, at least: namely, a way of dividing up the world between the West and the East. What appears to be simple geographical fact is, says Said, actually an idea. The division of the world into these two parts is not a natural state of affairs, but an intellectual choice made by the West in order to define itself. The third meaning for Orientalism is more historically specific. Since the latter part of the eighteenth century, when European colonialism in the Middle East developed most fully, Orientalism has been a means for domination, a part of the colonial enterprise. Said argues that colonialism is not about the physical acts of taking land, or subjugating people, but is also about the intellectual acts." (Hatt and Klonk, 226) Therefore, Said's Orientalism and the concept of Orientalism played a major role in the understanding of the East-West controversy and it considerably influenced the study of art and art history.
According to Edward Said Orientalism is a term that explains the academic as well as artistic Western tradition concerning intimidating and deprecatory views of the East. At the heart of such frightening and deprecatory views of the East are the attitudes of European imperialism during the 18th and 19th centuries. "Edward Said established the theoretical foundations for post-colonial studies by identifying how the West has characterised the East as the other since the Enlightenment. In all forms of cultural endeavour and enterprise, Europeans created the concept of an inferior Orient as opposed to a superior West. The boundaries between East and West have provided the locus for artistic hybrids and appropriations since classical times. In recent centuries, non-Western art has been perceived as exotic, dangerous, erotic and primitive." (Pooke and Newall, 211-12) Orientalism, as a term in art history, refers predominantly to the works of French artists in the 19th century, who selected the subject matter, colour and style of their artworks from the cultures of the Mediterranean nations and the Near East. Several critics and scholars in the field consider Orientalism as essentially an art history term.    ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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