On Sunday RK had a conversation with someone who is a good friend and also rug collector of note.
During our lengthy call RK brought up the fact we are not happy being in the position of invariably presenting only negative or derisive commentaries about what transpires in the world of antique “collector weavings”.
We mentioned the fact we would sure rather hand out commendations and “A’s” for superlative achievements instead of the “D’s” and “F’s”(failing grades) for the vast majority of efforts made in this important but tiny corner of the rug world.
In answering our friend was a bit tongue tied, as he also recognizes the pabulum and less than average quality of ‘scholarship’, research or just plain discussion that characterizes rug collecting, both in general and in most specific instances and examples.
He suggested framing our commentary with “would not it be nice if….” or “RK would like to see….”.
And while we readily agree our bedside manner is brutally direct and without sugarcoating we cannot understand why prefacing our commentaries with such rejoinders, or toning down our dismay with the lack of substance, let alone quality(another of his suggestions), will make any difference in the long run.
We appreciated his input but will not stoop to adopt any happy-face manners to get our message across, when it already is reaching as many ears and eyes as it is now.
We mention this as a way to preface our critiquing the publicity for the next acor that now appears on the hali website.
Oh, sweet baby Jesus, were only the words written there true and not like almost all, if not all, of hali’s publicity blurbs that are aimed at helping a group of favored dealers who are wheels in what RK calls the pseudo-rug ‘establishment’; furthering hali’s own agenda to sell advertising, books etc to ruggies; or to
assist those favored collectors, accumulators, investors and rug world grandees with whom hali (and those who pull strings behind the scenes at hali) maintain close relationships.
Often those “relationships” border on in-group trading and trade activities that are not condoned or even allowed, in other areas of the art world.
There is little doubt the rug world is full of insider trading and self-promotion that is helped along by hali turning blind, or is it just the dollar signs in their corneas, to these machinations and, at times, even furthering them with congratulatory commentaries.
Whew, that said let’s bring this home to the hen-house.
It is clear to RK and other bright eyes acor has become icoc-lite at best and at the worst nothing more than an icoc- sycophant.
We need not discuss the how and/or the whys of this co-optation, as it is plainly visible to all who look at it with an open mind and no previously determined agenda.
Regardless, acor could still do something notable instead of the grand illusions of what is actually only the white bread ordinaire that has characterized their previous efforts. What will now happen at acor-Boston appears, not only just to us, as more of the same.
RK has seen or been emailed all the previous acor-Boston publicity and so far, basically, ignored what has been written about it.
However, after reading what now is on the hali website, we felt it necessary to provide another, perhaps more real and honest, viewpoint to what the acor organizing committee and the rest of the pseudo-rug-establishment wants everyone to believe.
Let’s also state for the record, this is not the time or place for RK to expound our ideas how to make both the icoc and acor better, more enjoyable and more significant events.
We will, at some future point, be glad to detail our ideas should a group of interested people be organized with the intent of trying to begin to overhaul what can only be called an outdated approach to and over-stated modus operandi for handling such ‘conferences’.
There are a pant-load of exhibitions planned for acor-Boston and RK would like to counter the misleading and hyped tone, message and most important the pudding these acor folks are getting ready to serve up in April 2006 at the Park Plaza Hotel (the site of the weekend meeting).
Of the eight named exhibitions, RK has chosen to comment on several of them and we will do this by adding our words, in italics after those published on the hali website that were, no doubt, contained in the ‘talking points’ acor has issued them.
The first exhibition is entitled “Gems of the Caucasus - Antique Caucasian Carpets from the Rudnick Collection”.
“Rosalie and Mitchell Rudnick have been buying antique Caucasian rugs for over twenty years.”
RK has known the rugniks, as we are wont to call them, since they burst on the rug scene, checkbook in hand.
We have, almost since that time steered clear of their maneuvers, as we watched them climb up the slippery rungs of the rug ladder to reach the pinnacle they believe they now inhabit.
This gruesome twosome of a rather milque-toast husband and aggressive, shrill voiced, yenta of a wife are poster-folks for what RK now calls the grandees of rugdom.
God gave them the lucre to spend and that’s, at least in our eyes, the only thing that could possibly be attractive to anyone they have come in contact with in pursuing their collecting mania.
“In that time, they have built a first-rate collection with many important examples.”
In truth, RK knows they have gathered in some excellent rugs, although many are unknown to us, since we have not fraternized with them for almost 15 years.
Regardless of RK not being privy to their since acquired ‘treasures’, judging from the two rugs chosen by acor or hali to demonstrate that first-rate collection, we’d have to yawn and say ‘first-rate compared to what?’
“In 'Gems of the Caucasus', they will present 37 of their rugs, but rather than showing one of each type, or trying to present a full chronology of Caucasian weaving, the Rudnicks have chosen to present the rugs that they have come to love for their sheer visual artistry.”
Here is the first rugnik piece hali illustrates:
We do not believe this rug shines with “sheer visual artistry” and, although maybe visual artistry means full pile to them and the reviewer, it doesn't to us and this rug is nothing RK would even bother to turn over let alone laud.
“The Rudnick Collection reflects twenty years of buying, but also of selling.”
Ah ha, maybe that’s what this exhibition is all about for the rugniks, selling the pieces they have outgrown??
“Mitch and Rosalie have continuously tried to improve their collection, not just to augment it”.
Is this another hint as to how and why the selection for this show was made??
“Over time, they have found themselves drawn to earlier pieces, and in particular to rugs from the southern parts of the Caucasus, such as a Surahani with a double-keyhole design, dated 1854 (right).”
We have pictured that rug above and, phuleeze now acor and hali-ites, calling any Caucasian rug dated 1854 “early” is just plain dumb and stupid.
Plus we do not in any way believe it is one of those supposedly mythic Surahani weavings. We would prefer calling it a Genje, a far more apt provenance.
“A group of Moghan area pieces includes an exquisitely woven long rug, with rich colours and carefully drawn design elements, with an inscription that dates it to 1830.”
Here is the photo of that supposed Moghan:
This piece also doesn’t turn our wheel – the compression of the elements and the crowded field appearance that jump out conclusively prevent it from possibly being called masterpiece or “gem” of it’s type. It is not.
Perhaps it, too, might please the rugniks if some other checkbook wielding newly minted collector took it off the wall at acor?
Lord knows this would not be the first time an “important” collector used an exhibition setting to sluff off no longer highly regarded artworks, now would it.
In addition any date on any pre airport art Caucasian village rug is suspect and, in fact, most are specious. Even hali’s neophyte editor should know that by now.
“The display will also include an early classical Dragon carpet fragment, a number of prayer-format rugs, and some Talish long rugs.
RK will wait to see the rest of the group but with these two as the lead-off batters, we are not going to hold our breath in expectation for many home runs hitters in the bottom of the line-up.
“In some instances, the juxtaposing of similar rugs will invite comparisons, without distracting visitors from the main purpose of this exhibition, which is to present beautiful examples of antique Caucasian weaving for their own sake.”
Buying art for art’s sake strikes us as an excuse to explain purchases that are not exactly of masterpiece quality and is that what this reviewer is getting at? Or better yet, are the rugniks, their collection and acor extravaganza going to establish new paradigms for the collecting and appreciating of Caucasian Rugs?
We doubt that highly, in fact, we are not afraid to go on record in stating what will appear there will be nothing revolutionary or remarkable. Well at least not to us and the small number of others knowledgeable enough to know the difference.
The other hype-filled accolade-laden previews RK wishes to put in their proper perspective center on gerard pacquin’s forthcoming acor role.
“Gerard Paquin is an academically inclined collector who focuses on weavings from Anatolia (although he also ventures into other areas). In particular he has done research into the influence of Ottoman textile designs on Turkish rug weaving, and on the origins of the çintamani design (HALI 64, 1992, pp.104-119). His careful research, discriminating eye, and his strong relationships with Turkish sources have allowed him to build a terrific collection, and ACOR attendees will be fortunate to have a glimpse of a small part of it.”
Jezzz, we thought only LACMA was suffering from the emperor’s new clothes syndrome.
How anyone with two cents in their cranial cavern could possibly believe this nonsense about pacquin after the publication of his bogus paean to those “newly discovered embroideries” is unbelievable and unfathomable.
Sure anyone can make a mistake, even two, but pacquin has managed to get both feet and his socks and shoes into his mouth while simultaneously dancing a polka and reading the Koran.
Come on acor-ites, all RK can say is pacquin’s article has proven him a pedantic buffoon more in professor price=clown’s mold than one of an “academically inclined collector”.
If he and the rugniks are acor’s big bats better hope the fans drink more beer than they should, otherwise there might be some confused, disappointed or disgruntled attendees in Boston on 4/20-23.
Seems pacquin has curated a show of his collection, as well as the poorly named “Mysteries in Silk” exhibition of those alleged period Ottoman embroideries RK has unmasked.
Back to hali’s pump and organ-grinding acor hype:
“Gerard Paquin is also curating a special display of a previously unknown group of Ottoman 'provincial' silk-on-silk embroideries (discussed elsewhere in this issue), which will also be the subject of his conference paper. It is unusual for something completely 'new' to appear on the market, and it is hoped that the publication and exhibition of this group will inspire someone to come forward with additional insights”.
What claptrap BS. First of all no one who is even familiar with, let alone an expert of pacquin’s supposed credentials, period Ottoman needlework could possibly think these ghastly monstrosities are genuine.
Well, unless those ole dollar signs were blinding them.
Secondly, pretending to ask for insight from others is as bogus as the embroideries themselves. Neither hali nor pacquin, and we bet all those acor-ite organizers as well, are interested in the facts and would just as well wish RK would never have seen them, as we are the only voice of reality here.
Duhhh, anything else new in rugdom??
“With their engaging colours and 'Ottomanesque' designs, visitors should enjoy seeing these pieces, even if the mystery remains unsolved.”
The only mystery here is:
1. who made them and then planted them for a moke like pacquin to buy
or 2. for the challenged staff at hali to devote such a inordinate amount of space to illustrate and hype.
No. ladies and gentlemen, if this is the best icoc/acor and hali can muster then it’s time to clean house. And not with that same old proverbial broom the new fuehrer at the textile museum claims his choice of dan walker represents.
New brooms can and do sweep clean but one’s like walker just move the old dust balls ‘round and around, never getting close to getting them into that dumpster.
But that’s another can of worms RK has neither the time nor desire to open at this junction.