Saturday, April 11, 2009

Orientalism appropriately meets Steampunk!

During the Victorian era there was a strong movement in art and general interest regarding the near and middle east. Called Orientalism, here's a bit from wikipedia:

In the nineteenth century the numbers of Oriental scenes greatly increased. In many of these works the portrayal of the Orient as exotic and decadently corrupt is most fully articulated. Such works typically concentrated on Near-Eastern Islamic cultures. Artists such as Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexander Roubtzoff painted many depictions of Islamic culture, often including lounging odalisques, and stressing lassitude and visual spectacle. Sensuality was seen as acceptable in the exotic Orient. This orientalizing imagery persisted in art into the early 20th century, as evidenced in Matisse's orientalist nudes. In these works the "Orient" often functions as a mirror to Western culture itself, or as a way of expressing its hidden or illicit aspects. In Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbô ancient Carthage in North Africa is used as a foil to ancient Rome. Its culture is portrayed as morally corrupting and suffused with dangerously alluring eroticism.

A quick search of the æthyrweb images should reveal a wealth of Victorian era Orientalist artwork, and truly anyone who appreciates fine art would do well to look into this as the images and scenes depicted are quite lovely and very rich.

Well now that the history lesson is over, and please forgive the good captain for that little digression, I have something special to share! Artist James Ng has created some beautiful steampunk artwork with serious oriental influence. Yes, I know this is far from the Orientalism in the history lesson, and in fact has almost nothing in common with it at all, in truth these are depict a much more heavy Asian influence, but you still learned something new didn't you?

Splendid, then forgive the captain his stretching for a connection if you please, and feast your eyes on these ~

Steampunk Nightpatrol by James Ng Steampunk carriage by James Ng

Steampunk airship by James Ng

Despite the complete lack of "orientalist" connections, how often do you get to see steampunk imagery focusing more on Asian influences as opposed to purely Victorian or western? Exactly!

Hopefully you'll ponder how we can draw more Asian and Orientlist influences into our steampunk consciousness while you get back to work! Oh yes, Saturday, right. Well then...carry on!

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