The mirror the West built: An Orientalist reflection on Ingres's Grande Odalisque
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Porter, Jaryd. 2023. The mirror the West built: An Orientalist reflection on Ingres's Grande Odalisque. -- In Proceedings: 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University
Early Orientalism was a tool to subjugate and categorize cultures and peoples with which Western scholars were only remotely familiar. The practice of fetishizing Eastern cultures began as a means of justifying conquest and revision of "backwards" or "barbaric" cultures. The social and cultural damage Early Orientalism has done to the way that the Western World or the Occident views the Eastern World has proven irreparable by the fetishization of the exotic which persists through the modern Western Canon of literature and art. Modern Orientalists are scholars like Edward Said who have found that the inaccurate, fearmongering, and fetishistic construction that Western scholars built around the world of "Others" more so reflects the fears and insecurities of prevailing Western cultures than their own. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres has a secure place in the canon of Western art history as one of the great Neoclassicist painters, though a deeper dive into his work reveals Ingres's desire to exoticise his subject. Through a major participant in Eurocentric-Western canon, the notorious La Grande Odalisque, the insufficiency and imperialist framework of the Western canon is laid bare. We examine a figure presented with exotic props, with manipulated and molded proportions, and that is impossible to view without the implicit violence of an Oriental woman in possession of an Occidental artist.
Presented to the 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Rhatigan Student Center, Wichita State University, April 14, 2023.
Research completed in the Department of English, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.