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Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930 Hardcover – February 3, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0520222175 ISBN-10: 0520222172 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520222172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520222175
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This study investigates how North African artists were influenced by French artists -- and vice versa.... This book is a major contribution to the study of Orientalism and, having taken the topic beyond the range of the customary academic concerns, it opens up exciting and new avenues for further research."--Art Newspaper -- Review

From the Inside Flap

"Roger Benjamin's Orientalist Aesthetics dramatically enhances our understanding of French colonial visual culture during the period of colonialism's greatest ambitions. It is a richly nuanced book, about the densely imbalanced connections between France and North Africa, full of fascinating images and elegant analysis, exemplary in its wide-ranging attention to art works, popular spectacle, institutions, scholarship, and the contradictory workings of colonial culture and power. This book should be read not only by art historians and North Africa specialists, but by anyone concerned with colonial cultures and their legacies."—Nicholas Thomas, author of Possessions: Indigenous Art/Colonial Culture

"Orientalist Aesthetics represents an impressive feat of research and a tale heretofore untold. Especially fascinating is Roger Benjamin's choice not simply to interrogate the institutional history of French Orientalist painting, but to consider more broadly the French management of indigenous arts as well as some of the Algerian artists who fashioned careers during this period. This is an original and responsible reconstruction of a significant and complex history."—Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, author of Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France

"At once broad and minutious, Orientalist Aesthetics treats the major institutions and actors who brought about the encyclopedic Orientalist movement. Roger Benjamin’s work has the potential to significantly advance the dialogue between Europe and the United States on current problems in post-colonial studies."—François Pouillon, author of Les deux vies d’Étienne Dinet, peintre en Islam: L’Algérie et l’héritage colonial

"Roger Benjamin's engrossing and painstakingly researched book breaks new ground in the study of Orientalism. The fifty years of the book's novel compass have been virtually untouched by previous studies. Benjamin's subtle understanding of the complexities of the colonial encounter sets a very high standard of theoretical analysis. Orientalist Aesthetics covers a broad terrain of individual artists (from the modernists Renoir and Matisse to the barely known Algerians Mammeri and Racim), art criticism, and institutions. The book tells an altogether fascinating story, and the author's detailed historical knowledge, passion, good sense, and acuity are evident on every page."—Hollis Clayson, author of Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-71)

"Benjamin establishes meaningful parallels between painting and other artistic (as well as literary) productions, including photography and the decorative arts. He astutely analyzes the effect of colonial policies on the preservation and ‘development’ of indigenous arts and crafts. All these elements are examined within the ever-shifting parameters of French colonial policies in North Africa."—Zeynep Çelik, author of Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations: Algiers under French Rule

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Sumner on July 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
An impressive overview of French Orientalist painting and the conditions which produced it, combining a high degree of scholarship with excellent readability. The text introduced me to artists of whom I was completely unaware, and to unknown Orientalist works by well-known artists. I found the sections on Art Nouveau and 20th Century artists particularly interesting, and the coverage of the two selected North African artists working within the Western tradition even more so. Congratulations to Mr Benjamin on such an incisive, scholarly and useful work.
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