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British Museum exhibition depicts influence of Islamic world on western art

british museum orientalism exhibition

British Museum announces a new exhibition spanning five centuries, looking at the influence the Islamic world has had on western art.

‘Inspired by the east: How the Islamic world influenced western art’ is a collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) in Kuala Lumpur, who are loaning various objects to the British Museum.

The artefacts and artworks from IAMM will be displayed together for the first time at the British Museum, alongside the London-based museum’s Islamic collection.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said the attraction “will highlight just how extensive and enduring the cultural exchange between the west and the Islamic world has been”.

Highlighting the cultural influence of the Islamic world

british museum exhibition

“It is an artistic relationship which has endured for five centuries and has influenced an astonishing diversity of material culture,” Fischer added.

The exhibition will focus on the cultural interactions between Europe and North America in the west, and North Africa and the Middle East in the east.

It will focus on the art movement known as Orientalism, the representation of the east in western arts, which started in the 16th century, but gained traction during the 19th century.

‘Inspired by the east’ will feature ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery, manuscripts, clothing, and artworks, including Lalla Essaydi’s ‘Women of Morocco’ and Inci Eviner’s video work ‘Harem’.

Ceramics, artworks, jewellery, photography and more

british museum islamic exhibition

It will also include paintings by Orientalists such as Eugène Delacroix, John Frederick Lewis and Frederick Arthur Bridgman, as well as ceramics by Théodore Deck, who created a range inspired by Islamic originals, and works by Ottoman photographer Pascal Sébah.

Olivia Threlkeld, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “Orientalism was one of the defining elements of the 19th and 20th centuries, comparable to other ‘isms’ like Surrealism and Impressionism, but it is largely forgotten today outside of academic circles.

“This will be a rare opportunity in the UK to see these important artworks from southeast Asia’s largest museum dedicated to Islamic art, and to think about Orientalism’s impact on art history and its legacy today.”

Orientalism at the British Museum and IAMM

british museum islamic exhibition

Earlier this year, the British Museum and Samsung renewed their partnership on the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre (SDDC) for another five years, also revealing the SDDC will undergo a major refurbishment.

‘Inspired by the east’ opens at the British Museum in October 2019. After its run in London, it will open at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia on June 20, 2020.

Images: British Museum

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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