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Eden – East and West: Art in the 19th Century

March 27, 2007-June 25, 2007
Location: Unspecified location
Curator: Yigal Zalmona
In the nineteenth century, the Middle East and the Land of Israel were an important locus of Western longing, curiosity, fantasy, and apprehension of the Other, and these feelings were articulated visually by many artists and artisans of the time. European painters and photographers visited scriptural sites that held profound religious significance for them, producing portrayals of the local landscape and population suffused with sanctity. At the same time, their work shows that the Orient was a place of fantasy – vibrant, colorful, exotic, and more than a little erotic. Depictions of the Land of Israel were also a subject in Jewish art and ritual objects, and at the turn of the century visual expressions of the yearning for Zion assumed Orientalist dimensions as part of the Zionist enterprise, as seen in the work of the Bezalel School and the pre-State artists. This interdisciplinary exhibition explored the ideas, emotions, and images that emerged from the encounter of different worldviews and artistic traditions, through works from a broad variety of fields represented in the Museum’s encyclopedic collections: European, Israeli, and Islamic art, sculpture, graphic art, early photography, Judaica, and ethnography.