Constantinople Modern: Avant-Garde Arts in Occupied Istanbul, 1918-1923

Research Seminar

  • Public event without registration
  • Datum: 10.04.2024
  • Uhrzeit: 11:00 - 12:30
  • Vortragende(r): Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal, Gizem Tongo
  • Ort: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rome and online
  • Kontakt:
Constantinople Modern: Avant-Garde Arts in Occupied Istanbul, 1918-1923
This talk explores modernist painters, writers, and musicians active in Istanbul during the city’s occupation by British, French, and Italian forces between 1918 and 1923, asking how foreign occupation and the international cultural climate of the period contributed to the creation of an avantgarde.

The political flux that resulted from the occupation of Istanbul by British, French, and Italian forces had a perhaps surprising corollary in the dynamization of the art world of the Ottoman capital. The arrival of numerous artists among the transitory population who sought opportunity and safety in the city brought about a period of revitalization and internationalization of the arts after the restrictions and hardships of war. They included important avant-garde painters, musicians, and writers who broke with traditional styles and genres, leaving a visible impact on Ottoman artists’ style and subject matter. This research seminar examines how these artists, both international and local, contributed to the growth of an avantgarde that reflected and engaged with a city under occupation.

Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014. His thesis comparing the military occupations of Alexandria, Thessaloniki, and Istanbul during and after the First World War was published by Oxford University Press under the title Britain’s Levantine Empire, 1914-1923. Daniel joined the British Institute at Ankara as a post-doctoral research fellow from 2014 to 2017. After working as Research Assistant Professor in Middle Eastern History at Hong Kong Baptist University from 2017 to 2019, he returned to the BIAA as Assistant Director from 2019 to 2023. He is currently a research fellow at the Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Naples.

Gizem Tongo is an art and cultural historian specializing in the history of the late Ottoman Empire. She holds a doctorate in Oriental Studies from University of Oxford. Upon graduation, she held two postdoctoral positions, first at the University of Oxford, and later at the British Institute at Ankara. Gizem has also been involved in curating and writing material for exhibitions, including Mihri: A Migrant Painter of Modern Times (2019) and Occupied City: Politics and Daily Life in Istanbul, 1918–1923 (2023-4). She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art History at Hacettepe University, Ankara.

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Scientific Organization: Semra Horuz

Image: Alexis Gritchenko’s depiction of whirling dervishes, 1920, watercolor. From Alexis Gritchenko, Deux ans à Constantinople: journal d'un peintre (Paris: Quatre Vents, 1930)© National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv.

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