Seeing Orientalist Art as an Aid to East-West Dialogue
  Resource:nytimes   2012-12-03 15:27:20  
 

One of the world’s leading collectors of Orientalist art believes the genre can teach the diplomatic world much about East-West relations. Shafik Gabr, an Egyptian businessman and philanthropist, says the sort of immersion that Western painters had in the Middle East in the 19th century is the sort of personal interaction that can lead to better understanding between cultures.

So he’s holding a symposium on diplomatic relations based on the concept of Orientalist painting on Monday to be followed by a big party at the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur.

The symposium at 583 Park Avenue, presented by Mr. Gabr’s new foundation, includes a panel discussion on “Early Globalists: What Do the Orientalist Travelers Have to Teach Us Today?”

Others in the Middle East and elsewhere have disparaged Orientalist art, with its scenes of harems and fortune tellers, as patronizing.

But Mr. Gabr sees the genre’s impact and origins differently.

“Their record of painting, their mission and what they accomplished,” he said in an interview this fall with The International Herald Tribune, “was a truly strong bridge-building experience very early in the 19th century.”

 
 
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