Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the British Museum’s latest exhibition.
The Guardian: ***** “One thing is undeniable in this exhibition of dreams. However prejudiced we may assume them to have been, westerners from the 15th to 19th centuries sincerely admired the beauty of Islamic art, architecture, crafts and lifestyles. It is only in our own time that Islam’s heritage can be so casually dismissed by pseudo-intellectual politicians and other philistines.”
The Telegraph: ** “For those who like their paintings as escapism, to transport them instantly to some far-away place, the Orientalists take some beating. For those who like their paintings rooted in accuracy and historical fact, however, this isn’t a show for you.”
The Times: “Over the past 15 years the British Museum has played a valuable educative role in Middle Eastern culture.”
Evening Standard: *** “Does the exhibition achieve its ambitious aims? No. But it brings us some lovely pieces in trying to.”
Time Out: *** “It’s also a shame – though understandable – that they’re missing some of the great works of Orientalism (Delacroix and Ingres, for example, though both are here in sketch form). More than anything, though, this doesn’t deal with the show’s premise. It goes from dialogue and influence to a singularly Western vision of the east. You want more about the influence and power of Islamic art, more about what it actually changed. And the final room of contemporary works is too small and slapdash to be anything more than an afterthought.”
Culture Whisper: ** “This exhibition brings to light many interesting cultural exchanges, but what it lacks is coherence and breadth. The story is muddled and what narrative that can be teased out, glosses over the colonial exploits that opened up the Islamic world to artists and fuelling the European appetite for all things ‘eastern.’”
Londonist: **** “The show shines a light on a less explored part of Orientalism, through beautiful objects and fascinating stories. Plus it’s always good to know there was a time when Europe was admiring other cultures, rather than plundering them. That came later.”
London Visitors: “This fascinating exhibition illustrates that the cultural exchange between any societies is often fraught with misunderstandings and prejudices.”
Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Inspired Western Art is on display at the British Museum until the 26th January 2020.