Monday, May 9, 2011

The Dahesh Partners With Syracuse University for Exhibition in Dubai

Plate by Owen Jones

Readers with a taste for (or plans for) international travel will be interested to know of an upcoming joint exhibition between the Dahesh Museum and Syracuse University to be held in Dubai. 

The Dahesh was a haven for aficionados of 19th-Century Academic and Orientalist art located in Manhattan’s East Side.  Since closing their doors, the museum has hosted (singly or in partnership) a series of fascinating exhibitions catering to connoisseurs.

The new, month-long exhibition is Reconnecting East and West: Islamic Ornament in 19th Century Works from the Dahesh Museum of Art and Syracuse University.  It will unveil at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (DUCTAC) on June 18 and remain on view until July 18.  The exhibition will celebrate the 19th Century rediscovery of authentic Islamic ornament and design by Western scholars and artists.

The 'Orient' (which, to the 19th Century mind, was most anyplace East of Istanbul), was a rich wellspring of inspiration to 19th Century artists.  For example, Whistler and his contemporaries were particularly impressed with Japanese art, which also greatly influenced the Aesthetic Movement.  (Watch for comments on the recreation of Whistler’s Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery in an upcoming column.) 

At the same time, the Islamic world inspired the academic painters of the period.  Painters such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Rudolf Ernst and Ludwig Deutsch, many of whom traveled to the Middle East in the 19th Century, were prominent figures of this movement.  (Needless to say, they were a heroic breed of artists, as these expeditions were not without hazard.) 

Reconnecting East and West will trace the rich documentation of Islamic ornament and design by European artists and scholars, and feature color lithographs from Emile Prisse d’Avenne’s Islamic Art in Cairo, along with individual plates from both Grammar of Ornament and Alhambra, by Owen Jones.  Paintings by Ernst and Deutsch are on hand, and several prints after Gérôme.

The Dahesh was the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to collecting and exhibiting 19th and early 20th Century Academic art.  It also has an extensive collection depicting the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (considered, at the time, the ‘Orient’).  The programs they have organized in recent years have always been revelatory.  It is hoped that some of this exhibition will travel to New York and perhaps show at the Palitz Gallery/Lubin House, where other Dahesh/Syracuse University collaborations have appeared.

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