NEW-ORIENTALISM IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN ART: Finding the New East in the New West / Old Ideas with New Words

Banu Sezgin M.A.



Finding the New East in the New West / Old Ideas with New Words...


As a trend in European art, Orientalism began with the Egyptian invasion of  Napoleon at the end of the 18th century.  It spread in the 19th century before its importance waned after the First World War. In this period of  art history, painters created their own version of a magical, exotic and mystical east. There are many German orientalist painters such as E. Hildebrandt, E. Körner, G. Bauernfeind who painted the east with its all magic and mystery. After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, eyes turned towards the eastern world again.  This was the second western look at the eastern world.


Unlike the 18th and 19th centuries, this time local eastern people travel to the west and migrate. It can not be ignored that Germany which was so strongly attracted by the charm of the east in the 18th and 19th centuries has come closer to different cultures due to the ongoing migrations and it still should have an artistic interaction with the east.


In contrast to historical Orientalism, the origin of the New Orientalism lies in the east. The point is that this time not only the west turns its eye to the east but also the east for some reasons turns its eye to the east, but this time from the western window. In other words, the east begins to present itself to the west from the western perspective. Another way of saying is, eastern images are used  this time in western style.


This thesis examines the question of how New Orientalism in Germany takes form and how the interactions between the east and Germany in the meaning of art have progressed. In this thesis project, firstly New Orientalist examples in some other countries from both the east and the west will be examined and then information will be given on how New Orientalism developed in these countries and the reason why the east requires to represent itself to the west will be invenstigated.


In the main part of the thesis, New Orientalism in German art will be analyzed. The subject will be discussed in two main groups of artists: The works of German artists and the works of immigrated artists. In addition to this, it will be searched how German local art characteristics and the eastern images are combined. As an example, “Turkish Delight” by O. Metzel is one of the notable works that reveals both the east and the west and also as the name indicates,“exotic beauty”. P.Wunderlich’s work “Odalisque” is an efficient combination of  German surrealism and oriental image.  N. Aladag as an immigrant artist unites some Turkish carpet pieces to obtain one unique piece of artwork named “Social Fabric”. Similarly, P.Forouhar, with her works “Written Room and Body Letter” brings together the eastern features and the western style. Eastern ideas with new words...