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Modern Art and the Idea of the Mediterranean

Modern Art and the Idea of the Mediterranean

Edited by Vojtěch Jirat-Wasiutyński
with the assistance of Anne Dymond
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Modern Art and the Idea of the Mediterranean
    Book Description:

    Drawing on recent geographical, historical, cultural and anthropological studies, contributors address the visual representation of identity in both the European and the ?Oriental,? the colonial and post-colonial Mediterranean.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8458-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Modern Art and the New Mediterranean Space
    (pp. 3-33)

    The present volume examines the representation of the Mediterranean region in the visual arts since the late eighteenth century, placing the ‘idea of the Mediterranean’ – a cultural construct rather than a physical reality – at the centre of our understanding of modern visual culture. Although the region was not the birthplace or the principal production site of modern art, as it was for classical art in antiquity or much of Islamic art in the Middle Ages, the ‘idea of the Mediterranean’ informs much of modern art. Starting with the Romantics, artists from centres north of the Alps were drawn to the...

  5. 2 Allegories of Modernity: Space, Time, and the Mediterranean
    (pp. 34-60)

    One of the defining historiographical gestures of the cultural criticism of the last thirty years or so has been to distinguish between early- and late-twentieth-century modernity in terms of their relations to space and time. During the first of the two phases, preoccupations with the temporal aspects of life and culture prevailed; during the second, preoccupations with space and spatial aspects. One was the age of Proust, Joyce, and stream of consciousness in literature, of Bergson and Heidegger, involuntary memory, and the ontology of temporality in philosophy; chronologically it coincided with the modernism of the first decades of the century...

  6. 3 Abstracting Space: Remaking the Landscape of Colonial Algeria in Second-Empire France
    (pp. 61-83)

    This essay emerges from a recent dissertation on the representation of the colony of Algeria in French visual culture between 1830 and 1870.¹ The term visual culture here covers a broad range of modes of visual art and spectacle that recorded the colonial exploration and conquest of Algeria, including paintings, prints, photographs, illustrated books, and a panorama. The impulse to research such an array of media arose from an interest in the social character of colonial imagery, though this essay confines itself to a consideration of paintings in relation to geographical descriptions, both pictorial and textual. Following the groundbreaking, if...

  7. 4 The Untimely Classicism of Hans von Marées
    (pp. 84-115)

    Writing about his travels in the Bay of Naples, Henry James formulated a double-edged definition of the late-nineteenth-century northern European fascination with Italy and its tradition.¹ Perpetually inspiring to artist and visitor alike, Italy was, James claimed, also overwhelming, even stifling, to any creative act. It was in equal measure welcoming and hostile to northern European modes of thought and representation. Writing about ‘the classic, synthetic directness of the German passion for Italy,’ James described the region’s peculiar commingling of past and present, attraction and horror, as follows:

    The beauty and the poetry, at all events, were clear enough, and...

  8. 5 A Politicized Pastoral: Signac and the Cultural Geography of Mediterranean France
    (pp. 116-145)

    Nineteenth-century cultural geography often divided the French nation into dichotomous pairs such as Paris and ‘la province,’ or North and South, with the Mediterranean south often perceived as pre-modern and backward. Despite this dominant perception, an alternative cultural geography existed, which saw traditions of liberty and social accord as concomitant with Mediterranean France’s naturally harmonious landscape. Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac drew on this idea of the Mediterranean and appropriated the conventions of classical pastoral painting to his anarchist goals to envision a utopian future that would be situated on the southern coast. His immense manifesto painting,In the Time of...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 6 Inventing Mediterranean Harmony in Matisse’s Paper Cut-Outs
    (pp. 146-160)

    Although Henri Matisse is one of the best-known twentieth-century artists of the Mediterranean, this has been acknowledged primarily through his Fauve painting in Saint-Tropez and Collioure, his Moroccan canvases of the early teens, and the theatrical performance of a trans-Mediterranean blend of the Côte d’Azur and North Africa in his so-called Nice period, roughly from the end of the First World War to the close of the 1920s. Less attention has been paid in this respect to the innovative works of art Matisse made in Nice in a late-career flowering – his paper cut-outs. These often large-scale collages of flat, decorative...

  11. 7 Classicism and Resistance in Late-Nineteenth-Century European Art: The Case of Greece
    (pp. 161-180)

    Some time around the middle of the nineteenth century, classicism in France, Germany, and England entered a new phase. Its most distinctive feature was a shift from the lofty Graeco-Roman classicism of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, best exemplified by the paintings of Jacques-Louis David, to a new form of classical imagery, quotidian, domestic, and sentimental in nature. Subjects were mundane and, as a rule, devoid of precise historical or literary references; the figures were most of the time anonymous (or, if historical or mythological, engaged in patently un-heroic actions); and settings, although crafted meticulously to appear archaeologically...

  12. 8 The Faces of Modigliani: Identity Politics under Fascism
    (pp. 181-205)

    Amedeo Modigliani presents an ideal case study for exploring the multiplicity of Mediterranean identities. His biography and art are rooted in the region’s diverse and distant shores and in its fertile terrain of cultural species. The oppositional pairs that define Modigliani – Christian and Jewish, civilized and primitive, classical and Orientalist – attest to the competing ideological constructs of the Mediterranean as a sacred land, communal Arcadia, and geo-political entity. As a consequence, Modigliani’s acanonical style, singular within modernism itself, generated paradoxical readings when French and Italian critics had their own nationalistic agendas to promote. Interpretations of Modigliani during the Fascistventennio,...

  13. 9 The Representation of Islamic Art in Israeli Museums: The Politics of Collecting
    (pp. 206-226)

    In this age of increasing globalization and rapid cultural and scientific exchange, museums are still seen as ‘temples’ that preserve national cultural heritage. They often display the traditions and customs a nation desires to emphasize. Those working in museums participate in the business of making history through careful selection, interpretation, and representation. The museums of Mediterranean countries demonstrate these processes with particular clarity since this region bears the marks of past and present political and cultural tensions. Power relations of the past two centuries have located the countries of southern Europe, such as Portugal, Spain, or Italy, somewhat on the...

  14. 10 Returning the Gaze: Orientalism, Gender, and Yasmina Bouziane’s Photographic Self-Portraits
    (pp. 227-252)

    Yasmina Bouziane is one of several contemporary visual artists based in the ‘West,’ especially New York, revisioning the ‘East,’ especially the Middle East and North Africa.¹ A striking number of these artists are women; gender figures prominently as well in the work of Ghada Amer, Jananne al-Ani, Mona Hatoum, Shirin Neshat, Mikal Rovner, and Shahzia Sikander, for example.² Usually the work of these and other artists is viewed in the context of contemporary art practices. To be sure, their geographical origins are noted, even emphasized, but this background is rarely examined in depth, rarely connected to the particular forms their...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 253-254)