Bellydancers in Art?

Ariadne

Well-known member
We have all kinds of great threads on costumes and vintage pictures and such but it just occurred to me that I don't think we have one for art about "bellydancers", so I thought I would start one.


For my starting contribution I have to use two paintings by Fabio Fabbi, an Italian Painter (1861-1946) during the Orientalist craze. I like his paintings because the people actually look middle eastern and the architecture is awesome (yes, I get turned on by beautiful architecture). He has several paintings of dancers, the same few dancers over and over mind you, but two of his paintings make me a little annoyed.




What's with ignoring the dancers? Is there some reason the musicians in these paintings aren't looking at them?


For something more contemporary here is a painting by a friend for a raffle at a Hafla to raise money for a BD teacher going through cancer treatments. (You can see the picture in progress in her Tribe album.) I think it's gorgeous.




Anyone else have some art they would like to contribute?
 
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khanjar

New member
Of couse many of us know of Gerome's art, much of it depicting what was the scene at the time, but how much of it is fanciful I wonder, but one picture in particular of Gerome's paintings that I admire for a few reasons is his cafe dancer for it shows Ottoman influence at the time and as a person,myself interested in what was, I know from certain props in the painting, Gerome was very detail orientated, so being detail orientated is it likely much of his art is indeed artist's licence ?



But if one looks on that website, you will find many images, paintings from the past depicting belly dancers, many of them bare chested which I understand is anathema to many a Western dancer now, to which I reply, maybe at the time such imagery was not the titillation it is now with a society just emerging out of religious control, compare the Mid East a hundred or so years ago to what we know and think now.

But the website ;

Onok-art

Now before I post this I wonder if it will crash my Mac.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Art is trying to disctance itself from porn now (much like bellydance) but to be frankly honest (having studied art for a few years at a university level) I know that at least SOME art was commissioned as porn for the wealthy. Some of these bare-breasted orientalist pieces may well come under that heading, particularly considering the prevailing attitudes of the time when the empires were in expansionist mode.

I would honestly take the paintings that are set in a setting that we know from our bellydance research exists at face value and take all others with a grain of salt.

Look at the Fabio Fabbi paintings. He's obviously got his favourite model posing. In each of the paintings there are different musicians but the same pale, european woman dancing with a tambourine in sheer fabrics. The paintings are beautiful, but honestly they are studio works. Going further down the page, the same model is in the foreground dancing, but is sometimes joined by one of 4 other models.

Gaston Bussiere has gone to the same source for models used by French painters over the centuries - ballet dancers (which is where ballet got it's little nasty rep that only managed to disappear after a century of not being associated with painters).
 
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gisela

Super Moderator
Not sure if I have posted this before. Sorry if it is a repeat. I am trying to sculpt Samia Gamal in porcelain. It's taking forever though, as I do loads of other stuff in between.


Here's the missing hand ;)
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
Oh Gisela that will be so beautiful when you have finished it, you must post a finished pic as well. You ultra clever creative girl.

I love this bronze statue by Romanian-born and Paris-trained artist Demetre H. Chiparus (1886-1947). She kind of looks like a mix of Indian and Egyptian, a real fantasy piece, but I like it :D
The write up says: True to the Art Deco period, this sculpture is by Romanian-born and Paris-trained artist Demetre H. Chiparus (1886-1947), . THis graceful dancer, cast in designer bronze and set atop a faux marble base, is exquisitely hand painted complete with Egyptian symbols reflecting the period?s fascination with the excavation of Tutankhamen?s tomb.

Dimetre Chiparus was originally born in Rumania and exhibited his bronze works in high class galleries in Paris. His figurines and sculptures were based on the ballet and the theatre.

His statues were always exquisitely detailed. The base formed a natural pairing to the sculpture becoming part of the design and form.


~Mosiac
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Of couse many of us know of Gerome's art, much of it depicting what was the scene at the time, but how much of it is fanciful I wonder, .... I know from certain props in the painting, Gerome was very detail orientated, so being detail orientated is it likely much of his art is indeed artist's licence ?
Well, according to Shira's site about that painting....

About the Artist & the Painting

This painting was created during the Orientalist movement of art in the 19th century. The artist, Jean-Léon Gerôme, was probably the most famous and most prolific artist of the era. This painting dates to about 1876.

Unlike some of the other artists during the Orientalist era, Gerôme actually spent some time living in Egypt and created many paintings of Egyptian everyday life.

This picture served as the inspiration for U.S. dancers in the 1960's to begin experimenting with sword dances, particularly those involving balancing the sword.

No tradition of such dancing survived in Egypt into the 20th century to become a part of Egyptian-style Oriental dance as we know it today. There are some martial-arts oriented sword dances in the Near East, which are done by men, but no women's balancing-type sword dances like the one in this painting.


Thanks again Shira. :dance:
 

shiradotnet

New member
Of course many of us know of Gerome's art, much of it depicting what was the scene at the time, but how much of it is fanciful I wonder? I know from certain props in the painting, Gerome was very detail orientated, so being detail orientated is it likely much of his art is indeed artist's license ?

But if one looks on that website, you will find many images, paintings from the past depicting belly dancers, many of them bare chested which I understand is anathema to many a Western dancer now, to which I reply, maybe at the time such imagery was not the titillation it is now with a society just emerging out of religious control, compare the Mid East a hundred or so years ago to what we know and think now.
I recommend getting a copy of an essay by Linda Nochlin titled "The Imaginary Orient" which talks about this very subject. One place to find this essay is in this book: Amazon.com: The Politics Of Vision: Essays On Nineteenth-century Art And Society (Icon Editions) (9780064301879): Linda Nochlin: Books

Another perspective to continue - Gerome visited Egypt in 1856-ish, 1861, and 1880. The "Almeh with Sword" image in your post (which I love) is believed to have been painted around 1876 - when Gerome wasn't actually in Egypt. He may have made some sketches while there on an earlier visit, using those as a foundation for making the painting once he was back home. He likely took home Egyptian clothing after one of his visits and dressed his models in those garments.
 

Duvet

Member
What fascinating pictures. Many are beautiful, some are just too candy-fluff for me, and some were a shock to my sensibilities!:shok:

I think you can recognise a lot of fantasy in many of these paintings. They had to be pleasing to the purchasers' eye inorder to get a sale or commission.

Regarding the use of models, even a painter who went to Egypt might not be the best reporter, with no guarantee that they were painting dancers.

Gerard de Nerval, the poet, stayed in Cairo for six months in 1843. In one place he stayed he reports that there was a French painter and photographer (of daguerreotypes) who had a studio on an upper storey, and who took orange sellers and cane sellers there to act as his models; the majority of whom insisted on keeping their faces veiled. (The Women of Cairo Vol.1; Gerard de Nerval; Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York 1930. p16).
 
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