Orientalism And Orientalism

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This chapter will explore Orientalism and Orientalism in Art and Design. Orientalism is a label used by art historian’s literature and cultural academics for the study on aspects of the Middle East or Asian cultures. Orientalist painting, which portrayed more precisely “the middle East” was of one of the many specialisms of the 19th century academic art and the litterateurs of European countries took a similar interest in oriental matters. It is interesting to note that this study of the Middle East is often a study of ‘otherness’ being that the art and culture of the Middle East is seen as ‘other’ in western culture. Sometimes the culture of the ‘Orient’ is appropriated and used out of context by artist designers.

Figure 1
In figure 1, it can be seen that what is now the middle East had until the early 20th century been known to the West as the Near East. The British had first labelled the Middle East as a geopolitical and cartographic area through their imperial maps. Up until this point the region had never been clearly distinguished from “the East” or “the Orient”.

Since Edwards Said’s publication on his book ‘Orientalism’ more academic institutions have begun to use the term “Orientalism” to refer to western attitudes towards Eastern societies. What is important about Edwards Said’s first interpretation of ‘orientalism’ is as he states here ‘the most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is a critique, and indeed the label still serves in a number of

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