Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930

By Roger Benjamin | Go to book overview

2
Renoir and Impressionist
Orientalism

Renoir in Algeria

In spite of the ban on trips abroad that realism gravely declared … Orientalist painters are legion today. What is the use of laughable prohibitions? Shouldn't everyone be given the liberty to wander as they please, wherever their vocation calls them, and doesn't the artist, if he has any originality, remain himself before all horizons, in every clime? —ROGER MARX, “The Salons of 1895, ” part 4, Gazette des Beaux-Arts

Pierre-Auguste Renoir's little-known Orientalist venture is the perfect embodiment of the attitude Roger Marx expresses in the epigraph to this section, proof of the modernist idea that temperament supervenes in the interpreting of local conditions. Marx, a symbolist critic, supporter of Gauguin, and former realist, argued that if temperament was innate and portable, it could be applied in exotic climes as well as any others. 1 Gauguin is the best-known exponent of such exoticism among the finde-siècle avant-garde, but Renoir preceded him, albeit on a more comfortable and modest scale.

Generally Renoir seems disconnected from Orientalism. Hardly an exoticist, he is feted rather for

-33-

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Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Orient or France? Nineteenth-Century Debates 11
  • 2 - Renoir and Impressionist Orientalism 33
  • 3 - A Society for Orientalists 57
  • 4 - Orientalists in the Public Eye 79
  • 5 - Colonial Panoramania 105
  • 6 - Traveling Scholarships and the Academic Exotic 129
  • 7 - Matisse and Modernist Orientalism 159
  • 8 - Advancing the Indigenous Decorative Arts 191
  • 9 - Mammeri and Racim, Painters of the Maghreb 221
  • 10 - Colonial Museology in Algiers 249
  • Conclusion 275
  • Notes - Introduction 283
  • Selected Bibliography 325
  • Index 337
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