Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Art History and Archaeology


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Elizabeth C. Childs


The ambivalent relationship between Orientalism and modernism is the central theme of this dissertation. Art historians have primarily considered Orientalism in the visual arts within the framework of the long nineteenth century. Until now, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse's separate exotic travels to Tunisia and Morocco just before World War I and their related works have been regarded as culminations of conservative academic nineteenth-century Orientalist practice. However, Klee and Matisse responded to both shifting discourses on the Orient during periods of radical social and political upheaval in Europe and the Orient as well as to changing conceptions of modernism as it entered the mainstream. This dissertation therefore argues that these modern artists engaged with Orientalist art, literature, and popular culture in order to continually redefine their own places within modernism. Furthermore, Klee and Matisse often juxtaposed Orientalism and modernism in ways that alternately uphold and interrogate their shared foundational myths of originality, authenticity, and autonomy. Thus, their work ultimately, albeit sometimes unintentionally, breaks down barriers between Orientalism and modernism, and high art and popular culture.


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