The Imaginary Orient by Linada Nochlin forces the reader to confront the interplay between the West and Near East that take places in certain artists’ work. Perviously, when studying Orientalism, I had never made account of the ‘missing’ white man in artists’ work. However, as Nochlin guessed we would the absence now seems glaring. However, when considering the audience it of a white Europe it isn’t particularly surprising, that the artists left themselves/their fellows out of the art to create this artificial society to show the decay or barbarity of the Near East in contrast with the West.
The example used of Henri Regnault’s Execution without Judgement under the Caliphs of Granada in particular caught my attention. While Nochlin brings up the continued use of the guillotine in France at this time, I take it a step farther. In early 1871, Paris was seized by a massive popular revolt called the Paris Commune. From March until May Paris resisted the exiled French government’s troops. In the final week, named aptly named the La semaine sanglante, there were mass executions of the rebel Communards. Most had no trial and were shot on sight. In comparison it is hard to see which society is is more civilized.
Katelyn Kiner – Hope College – 2017