Jeune Turc, Jeune femme: impressions of a new beaute orientale
Antmen, Ahu (2021) Jeune Turc, Jeune femme: impressions of a new beaute orientale. In: Burns, Emily C. and Rudy Price, Alice M., (eds.) Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts. Routledge, New York, pp. 103-117. ISBN 9781003044239
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Images of young women are a recurring theme in Ottoman painting in the early 20th century, when a group of young Turkish artists, known as the Turkish Impressionists, expanded a field that was limited to landscapes and still lifes. These images were a complete novelty culturally and artistically; lifestyles were in rapid change in the midst between empire (Ottoman) and republic (Turkish) especially among an educated elite eager for gender reform within conservative Muslim society. “Jeune femme” imagery by Turkish artists could be seen as an echo of the naturalist and impressionist repertoire of subjects and styles they came into contact with as they studied at private and public institutions like the Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, they were also responding to the forces of modernity that gave women more freedom to roam about in public spaces, beyond their veiled and caged existence in Ottoman society. Artists of the era were bearers of the spirit of the Jeune Turc Revolution which brought with it constitutional rights and extensive public debate of women’s place in society, thus not only reflecting, but constructing images of modern women. This paper explores the pro-feminist approach of artists like Ibrahim Çallı (1881-1960), Avni Lifij (1886-1927) and İzzet Ziya (1880-1934), in paintings which not only objectify but subjectify women’s novel experiences at a very interesting time in Turkish history, and how the typical images of femininity within a well-known Western mode of Impressionism shifts meaning in other cultural contexts.
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