There are several Western powers that travelled to Asia to colonise Asian territories and also to monopolise several trades, such as spices and textiles. Some of the Western powers that came to Asia included the British, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, and the Dutch. I think it would be interesting to select one of the Western colonisers and mark out their trade route chronologically, and identify the most famous art pieces that came out of each Asian colony.
For example, if we were to look at the Dutch:
We can track the trade route they took in Asia, perhaps select 4 territories and select the art works that came out from these places.
Not being too clear about female patrons of the arts, I did a little research and discovered a list of women who are currently listed as some of the top female collectors of our time. I read through the list and one name, in particular, called out to me: Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani.
Perhaps it is because she is royalty, or maybe I’m interested in her because I have been to Doha, where she resides, and their art and culture fascinates me. I did some research about her and am utterly astounded by what she has accomplished.
While she is royalty, she is also an extremely well-educated woman, something you don’t hear much about from the Middle-East, or rather you would hear otherwise from Western propaganda.
She is the Director of the Qatar Museum Authority which manages the Museum of Islamic Art and the soon to open National Museum of Qatar and Orientalist Museum. She was also listed as one of the most influential people in the world by TIME magazine and has also topped the lists in ArtReview’s 2014 ranking of the art world’s 100 most influential figures, otherwise known as the power 100. Not only did she rank above countless Westerners, but in fact, she has outranked many men, something you don’t hear much about, especially a woman coming from the Middle-East.
She originally came into the art world’s view after spending $250 million on the Card Players, but soon rose to even higher heights after her organisations annual spending of about $1 billion.
Africa has always been seen as having one of the most backward civilisations in the world. Growing up, I’ve always had a particular view of Africa: tribes and animals. I’ve always been fascinated by that particular aspect of Africa, but not once have I stopped to think about the art or even the period of colonialism.
After week 2, where we talked about the ivories that came out of Africa, my perspective of their culture and their arts has changed. Their craft was exceptional, it shows, very clearly, the level of skill they possessed and their ability to bring life to such a precious material. While some might say that they’re backwards, their craft during that time shows something very different. Their level of skill was so great that they were asked to create works of art for the elite back in Europe, works that were not able to have been made by the Europeans at that time (or so to my knowledge).
But the one thing that did not change was how the Western world has exploited the resources in Africa. Though they may have respected the chieftains or the craftsmen in Africa, their exploitation of materials, especially that of ivory, has done nothing but harm the ecosystem. Up till now, elephants are being hunted in Africa, not necessarily for the westerners, as this issue is also very prominent in Asia and other parts of the world. While elephants are somewhat protected in Africa, other animals (even those that are protected) are still being hunted, and while elephants were hunted for their tusks, other animals are hunted for the sake of being hunted, or as the hunters might call it, Big Game Hunting.
Here’s some information on big game hunting and it’s affects on Africa: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34116488
(While this issue may not have anything to do with art history, I do believe it is an important issue, and since we were in Africa in week 2, I believe this does have some importance as well. Hope that’s ok!)