Is my Body of Work Orientalist?

My research work involves looking into Japonisme and the possibility that this may be a form of Orientalism.

Japonisme defined as “French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art” (Floyd 2003). In his book Orientalism (Said 1978) used the term to describe “the way the West has created a mythological identity about the East” (Wilson & Lack 2016:208).

For my Research module I am writing about three artists whose work is acknowledged to have been influenced by Japanese art and considering whether this constitutes a form of Orientalism.

For my Body of Work I am producing a series of images and OCA requires that I demonstrate how my work has been influenced by my research. I have, therefore,  been explaining how my study of Japanese art has influenced my photography.

This rather begs the question, does the fact that I have been studying Japanese art and allowed it to influence my work mean that my images are Orientalist? Is this not exactly the same thing that Vincent Van Gogh, Odilon Redon and Edna Boies Hopkins were doing towards the turn of the 19th/20th century? If my research were to lead to the conclusion that their images were orientalist then surely mine would be to.

My research still has a long way to go before I can answer the question with any degree of certainty, but it has given plenty of food for thought. It has also given me an insight into those artists that were influenced by Japonisme and how they took on board the influences.




Floyd, P. (2003) Japonisme. At:  (Accessed 21/10/2019).

Said, E. (1978) Orientalism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Wilson, S. and Lack, J. (2016) The Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms. London: Tate Publishing.