Arts > Visual Arts

Visual representations of Arab and Muslim cultures in paintings, photography, and other artistic mediums have had a profound impact on popular impressions—true and false–of Arab and Muslim Americans today, from nineteenth-century “Orientalist” paintings by European artists-turned-travelers and colonizers to contemporary responses to stereotypical depictions of Arabs and Muslims by contemporary artists.

French artists such as Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Dominique Ingres led the Nineteenth Century Orientalism movement, which played a major role in defining Europe’s perceptions of the Arab World, despite the artists’ frequent lack of familiarity or firsthand experience with their subject.

In reaction to many of these inauthentic representations, later artists challenged this Orientalist view of the Arab World through their Responses to Orientalism. These artists were often concerned with the Orientalists’ depictions of women in the Arab World, a theme that persists into the modern day where Contemporary Arab American Art continues to explore and ponder the image of women within Arab culture and society.