Art and Empire

Ten Lectures Exploring the Influence of ‘Non-Western’ Art on ‘Western Art’

These lectures trace the influence of ten ‘non-western cultures’ on European and US art in the order in which ‘the west’ encountered them. Europeans had been aware of Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern art from classical times but it was not until the sixteenth century that they established regular contact with much of Africa, the Americas and Asia. Individual lectures will look at the influence of Chinese ceramics on European porcelain, of Japanese prints on Impressionism and of African sculpture on Picasso. Others will explore Gauguin’s use of Oceanic imagery and Henry Moore’s debt to Pre-Columbian art. They will trace Native American influences in Robert Smithson’s art and Native Australian imagery in Sidney Nolan’s.

The talks question ‘the west’s’ definition of the primitive and exotic and show how non-European cultures developed through mutual trade and conquest. They also explain the increasing importance of ‘non-western’ artists and ideas in contemporary global culture.

The ten talks are offered as individual lectures or can be grouped together within study days.