Question

In an essay of approximately 1000 words (with a typical font and spacing, this will be approximately 4 pages), respond to the following question.

Asian and African art greatly influenced modern art. Thoroughly explain how and why this happened, and provide detailed examples of this influence.

References:
Soltes, Ori Z. Lecture 37: “Asia and Africa in the Western Mind.”

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African and Asian Art

Asian and African art, according to Dr. Soltes, was a major source of inspiration for works of modern art. Soltes argues in his lecture that art from Europe took lots of ideas from African and Asian artists and artworks. In fact, Soltes makes the argument that inclusion of these art forms was “a revolution in seeing.”

Soltes explains that if you look closely at some European artists’ works you can see how they insert their influences into their own works. In most of Soltes lectures, he shows us examples of Western artists referencing Asian and African art. There are obvious examples such as the Japanese styles of art that dominated Western curiosity in the nineteenth century and the fascination with masks from Africa.

But how did the West meet the East? And how deep is the influence?

Soltes first explains how artists in Europe, especially, found out about African styles of art. Soltes explains that because of the distribution of information about African and Asian art European artists were knowledgeable about these art forms. Because lots of pictures were taken and published in magazines, the media made these art forms readily available to European artists.

In the painting of Emile Zola by Manet, Soltes notes that there is a meeting between East and West. If you look closely at the painting, there are two paintings depicted on Zola’s wall. On the left is a painting of a samurai -- which according to Soltes is the image of the East. On the right is Manet’s own painting “Olympia.” If you look to the right of the painting you can see a Japanese wooden screen decorated in the traditional style. Soltes makes the interesting point that the man in the center of the painting is a cultured man who sits between East and West....

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