Decadent Orientalism is a term used to describe a particular strain of Orientalism, a cultural and artistic movement that emerged in the 19th century in Europe, which represented the Orient (primarily the Middle East and Asia) as a place of exoticism, mystery, and sensuality. Decadent Orientalism was characterized by an emphasis on the darker, more perverse aspects of Oriental culture, such as eroticism, depravity, and decay.
The term "decadent" refers to a literary and artistic movement that emerged in France in the late 19th century, which celebrated excess, sensuality, and aestheticism. Decadent Orientalism took the exoticism and eroticism of Orientalism to an extreme, often depicting the Orient as a place of moral decay, corruption, and decadence.
Decadent Orientalism was a reaction to the Enlightenment's rationalism and positivism, which sought to explain the world through reason and empirical observation. Decadent Orientalists rejected this approach, instead embracing a romanticized and often distorted view of the Orient as a place of irrationality and excess.
Examples of decadent Orientalism can be found in the works of writers such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, Gustave Flaubert, and Oscar Wilde, as well as in the paintings of artists like Gustave Moreau and Jean-Léon Gérôme. These artists and writers often portrayed the Orient as a place of sensual indulgence, moral decay, and exoticism, appealing to the darker, more primitive impulses of their European audiences.