Art Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures

ISBN 13: 9780691050034

Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures

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9780691050034: Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures



Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures explores complex American attitudes toward the Near East--as revealed in collected paintings, interior design, and multiple vernacular forms--at the formative moment of industrialization and the crystallization of a truly mass culture. Published to coincide with the multimedia exhibition that opens at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and travels to the Walters Art Gallery and the Mint Museum of Art, this catalogue considers how urban, mercantile, Protestant America represented the Islamic world of the Middle East and North Africa in ways that say more about itself than the foreign culture.


This gorgeously illustrated volume first looks at the use of Orientalist stereotypes by some of the country's most important high art painters of the nineteenth century: Frederic Edwin Church's treatment of the exotic terrain through a lens of deep religiosity; a more cosmopolitan reading of the harem girl by John Singer Sargent; the perfumed alternative to industrial capitalism conjured in the landscapes and market scenes of Samuel Colman and Louis Comfort Tiffany; and interpretations of the Orient as emancipatory by Ella Pell, the only major woman Orientalist. The book next traces the popularization of Orientalism in the decorative arts (including a few treasures from Olana, Church's Moorish-style home on the Hudson), on Broadway, and in Hollywood, as well as through advertising that linked consumer products with visual suggestions of exotic sexuality and through cultural objects, such as the Shriners' fez.


The generous color plates show both an innocent romanticization of the Orient and a darker, heavily eroticized version of Oriental "otherness." An excellent chronology and bibliography, in addition to expert essays by both Americanists and Islamicists, give context to absorbing images. Though a perfect companion for visitors to the exhibition, Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures is also for anyone seeking an uncommon take on the development of American self-understanding.



Exhibition Schedule:



The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, Massachusetts

June 11-September 4, 2000



The Walters Art Gallery
Baltimore, Maryland

October 1-December 10, 2000



The Mint Museum of Art
Charlotte, North Carolina

February 3-April 22, 2001


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About the Author:

Holly Edwards is an independent scholar and specialist on Islamic art. She is the author of The Genesis of Islamic Architecture. Contributors to the catalogue include Brian Allen, Assistant Director for Curatorial Programs at the Clark Art Institute; Steve Caton, Professor of Social Anthropology at Harvard University; Zeynep Celik, Professor in the School of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and Oleg Grabar, Professor Emeritus at the School of Historical Studies of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton.

From Library Journal:

Orientalism, the most interesting period in the Western world's long encounter with "the mysterious East," began in 18th-century Northern Europe and over the next several decades was exported to the United States in the able hands of avatars such as painters Jean-L on G r me and John Singer Sargent, architect Louis Sullivan, and even the dancer "Little Egypt." Although published alongside a traveling exhibition, this fascinating and very readable work is what a museum book ought to beDa well-illustrated, stand-alone study. Edwards has compiled a full examination of this branch of American exoticism and how it permeated the culture from high to low. The half comprising the exhibition catalog demonstrates its ecumenical approach. Included among exceptionally beautiful paintings by Sargent, Frederick Church, Henry O. Tanner, and others are more lowbrow examples of a broad-based cultural idea: heavily tasseled Shriner regalia, Fatima cigarette ads, and titillating clich s from the Ottoman Pavilion at Chicago's 1893 World Colombian Exposition. Edwards has included five interesting essays from contributors having both Islamic and American studies backgrounds. Although their accessibility is masked by preening, academic-sounding titles, behind this veil curious readers will find an exotic art-historical jewel. A terrific purchase for both public and academic libraries.DDouglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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