“Creating a collection of rugs, especially great ones, is an artistic endeavor in itself. It doesn’t simply imply the acquisition of art, it requires the making of art.”
So begins Lawrence Kearney’s overly poetic, and fantasy inspired, look at the mitchell and roselie rudnick Caucasian Rug collection hali published in issue 152.
RK is quite familiar with a number of the rudnick pieces, their collecting style and their overly visible presence in rugland, as we met them two decades or so ago.
We will not spend much time discussing our interaction with them. Suffice it to say we found it to be unrewarding in any respect for the ruGnicks, as we like to call them, were not then, or are they now for the matter, exactly rug savants.
Nor are they interesting on any other levels, at least not on any plumbed by RK.
We did supply a few “pieces” for their “collection”, none of which by the way are illustrated along with Kearney’s silly, and sometimes stupid, modifier laded prose.
But we found even selling something to them unpleasant, as it required politely listening to their particularly obtuse bent on all things rugish.
We have already commented on the “exhibition” of their “collection” staged at the acor in Boston and, had Kearney’s article been anything but a ridiculously over-blown paean to their “collection”, we would not bother to comment further.
However, Kearney’s overflowing and prosaic honoring it -- witness those first two sentences we quote above -- is not only foolishly positioned but also part and parcel of the “emperor’s new clothes” syndrome hali, and it seems everyone else in rugdom save RK, has become infected with.
Looking at what the rugnicks have amassed through Kearney’s eyes reminds RK of Alice in Wonderland and we wonder if hali’s choosing Kearney to write it was such a smart move.
After all, Kearney is known to maintain a very close relationship with them; he is, as we have heard a number of times, one of their favorite rug dealers.
It seems pretty apparent this situation, choosing Kearney, was not without bias.
But, regardless, we must state Kearney’s article tips the scales of reality upside down in presenting the rugnick’s collection as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It ain’t, and not by a long short, according to RK.
Yessshh, if those first two sentences didn’t signal where he is coming from, or is it going to, there are numerous others that flaunt objective reality with similar abandon.
“Assembled over a quarter of a century, it(ed. the rugnik collection) has an organic coherence; it has breath and depth, sweep and focus.”
Surely Kearney’s words ring well but do they ring true?
RK would have to answer no, as the following Kazak rug from their collection, and its absurdly over-arched Kearney description, aptly demonstrates.
#1 ”Borjalu Kazak rug”; late 18th century
“A Borjalu Kazak rug 1 is one of the best in a collection full of masterpieces. This rug is Paleolithic: undomesticated, definitely pre-agrarian: this is what rugs looked like 10,000 years ago.”
To laugh at this is easy. To see the absurdity in it, even easier for anyone who knows what a great Borjalu Kazak really looks like.
Here, and many other times as well, Kearney is up the creek without a paddle, ensconced in an overly waterlogged canoe that can barely float – hope he can swim, is all we can remark.
But if this hyper-hype wasn’t enough, Kearney then goes over the falls with this:
“And the skeletal “hooked” medallion, like a drunken menorah, is both powerfully totemic and goofy. Even when judged by the most liberal of ‘village weaving’ standards, this rug is a mess, but it is a wonderful mess, a triumph of inspired incompetence.”
Frankly, we agree but not in the way Kearney might like. We find it incredulous how the point Kearney strives to make – that the rug is a masterpiece – can be balanced by calling it “incompetent” and a “mess”?
Was Kearney the dealer who unloaded this mediocre and ugly Borjalu on the rugnick’s using such a contradictory flim-flam sales-pitch?
We really could care less if he sold it to them or not – but we do care about anyone, like him, trying to describe an immensely less than wonderful Kazak in such glowing and absurd terms.
"What rugs looked like 10,000 years ago?"
Who are Kearney, and hali, trying to fool beside themselves?
Or are they all hitting the crack pipe of rug dreams harder than an inner-city addict with a baggie of meth crystals?
From here, it’s all downhill reading what Kearney’s rose-colored words strive to communicate.
He tells readers “There’s real poetry to these rugs, a soulfulness that is as palpable as it is difficult to define.”
Well, RK has to say Kearney’s demonstrated he’s surely not tongue-tied or challenged in any way defining the rugnick collection and the methodology that has motivated this rug-besotted couple to assemble it.
But is his approach truthful and backed by reality? Again RK says phooey and no.
In fact, like the Eveready energizer bunny, he metaphorically conjures up for other reasons, RK has to take our hat off to him for pouring such huge platitudes where far less, and far more carefully placed, comments should have been the norm.
There is little doubt Kearney sold a number of rugs to the rugnicks, his jaundiced, highly prejudiced and often absurdly ridiculous, viewpoint becomes explainable, and highly suspect, because of this situation.
Was hali’s choice of having a close associate of the rugnick’s write this “article” equitable?
Clearly it isn’t and both hali and Kearney should know better but, let’s face facts dear readers, when has rugdom NOT fallen head over heels pandering to the lowest common denominator of judgment?
RK planned on citing a number of other misplaced “Kearneyisms” the article forwards but why bother, as rugland is mostly populated by wooden, head-bobbing, sheeple who either are too ill-informed to discern hype from fact or just too lazy and gullible to bother to try. And telling everyone this seems to have little effect or cause any change.
#15 “Kuba(?)”; “late 18th century”
“I want to close this brief overview of the Rudnick’s inspiring collection of Caucasian rugs with the last prayer rug in the selection, and one of my favorite rugs in the world 15. I have coveted it for years. And covetousness, unlike most human emotions, cannot be faked; there is a built-in honesty in wanting to grab something off someone else’s wall and stick it up on your own(for ever and ever, till death do you part). The colors are killer….here the dyer’s hand succeeded brilliantly….Beyond the sheer deliciousness of the colors there is the design, whose powerful Turkic vocabulary is softened and made intimate by the weaver’s sense of play. Every element seems detached, somehow floating in zero gravity.”
Whew, seems to RK Kearney’s vocabulary of modifiers is far broader than his knowledge of Caucasian rugs, particularly the group of prayer rugs to which the rugnick’s rather mediocre example belongs.
To say theirs couldn’t clip the toenails of the best of the group, which by the way are, in RK’s view, the silk-wefted workshop pieces, is a given.
As recognizably questionable is Kearney’s desire to laud his customers, as well as hali’s desire to further the idea collectors like the rugnicks are doing something worthy of such abject flattery.
As for Kearney’s rug lust and covetousness for the piece? Just more palaver from someone who has proven a dire lack of impartiality in trying to survey the rugnick’s rugs.
But a word or two of advice for Kearney seems mandatory before we sign off.
Lawrence, just for the record, you should know all human emotions, including covetousness, can be faked, and faked easily.
All one needs is a good reason and we are sure RK is not the only one to suss your cloyingly obnoxious attempt to honor those with whom you have done a considerable amount of business is as equally as transparent as the emperor’s nakedness was.
Because of an over-stuffed wallet, the rugnick were able to buy their way into rugdom. Your praise for their collection, which does in truth have some real winners but far too many clinkers and losers (your choices display a number of them), remains there for all to see and read between almost every line you wrote.
But on account of their limitations and those who advise them, the rugnick “collection” proves money is never enough to make a genuinely great rug collection.
And your article, if it is anything other than a pay-back to them, definitely shows how true those words really are.