A new look at French Orientalism’s influence on the art of the American West, showing how aesthetics and ideology jointly informed approaches to colonialism and expansion during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in both France and the United States
From the 1830s to the 1920s, American artists such as Alfred Jacob Miller, George de Forest Brush, Joseph H. Sharp, Bert Geer Phillips, and Ernest Blumenschein traveled to France to study their craft. Returning from abroad, these artists looked to the American West in search of new subjects. Influenced by French Orientalists such as Eugène Delacroix, Eugène Fromentin, and Jean-Léon Gérôme, the American artists applied an Orientalist aesthetic and ideology to their paintings, sculptures, and drawings, while at the same time creating works that appeared uniquely American. Exploring the ways that the visual tropes and knowledge structures of Orientalism influenced French and American colonialism and expansion, this volume considers the impact of French artistic techniques and tropes on the development of western American art. Other themes include the symbolism of desert landscapes and exotic animals, the role of world’s fairs in disseminating Orientalist spectacles and stereotypes, and the importance of artistic pilgrimage to the deserts of North Africa and the American Southwest. Historical and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples of North America, Muslim Americans, and Arab Americans challenge, negotiate, and provide alternative perspectives to the artworks.
Distributed for the Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum (March 5–May 28, 2023)
Jennifer R. Henneman is director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art and curator of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum.
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