Yesterday RK took a look at the rugs and other weavings dodds has advertised on a website called rugrabbit dot com.
This suzani was among that group:
suzani from maqam/dennis dodds's pages on rugrabbit dot com.
RK, in the 1970's, had a small collection of what we felt were outstanding suzani.
But because suzani are not the type of Near Eastern weaving we are interested in, we sold and traded away our pieces before 1980.
Some went to dealers and others to collectors, and since then we have only bought two suzani, in Paris, in 2006.
Those are also no longer with us, and perhaps we will publish them, and others we once owned, sometime in the future.
So RK has enough experience and expertise to write about suzani, tho we are not interested in doing so for the reason above -- they interest us not.
However, looking at the suzani above from dodds's rugrabbit dot com list
we recognized it as being similar to one published in the Atlantic Collections book from the Philadelphia icoc in 1996.
And sure enough on page 214 there is one, credited to the dennis and zinaida dodds collection.
Just a word about that book and the icoc exhibition both of which were "projects" dennis dodds oversaw and, in fact, organized.
The idea someone who organizes an exhibition, especially in a museum -- the Woodmere Art Museum was the main venue for the icoc exhibition --, and then fills it with their own pieces is not very correct, nor is it honorable.
But when someone does this with the idea to use the exhibition as a selling stage it smack of impropriety and vulgarity.
In dodds's case his actions then, and in other museum "exhibitions" he has organized, reek of disgusting self-promotion and crass commercialization.
RK has written about what dodds has done, and some longtime RK readers we are sure have read our condemnations, which can still be found online in our archives.
Let's get back to the suzani, the reason for this post.
Here is a picture of the dodds's suzani in the Atlantic Collections book
suzani, 19th century, Collection of dennis and zinaida dodds, no. 263, page 214.
RK is sorry for the somewhat less than perfect image but our webman is not working and we took a quick snapshot with our digital camera.
The loss of fidelity is not great enough to disguise the reality there is a glaring difference between these two pictures that at first look to be identical.
Before telling our readers what that difference is we should publish the caption in the catalog, which we have been told dodds wrote:
"Another purple-ground all-silk piece, this one is unusual in its use of a repeating floral device with blossoms in white and yellow attached to stems and leaves embroidered in green. Accents in bright red silk add to the clear palette and simple design. A version of this design can also be found on a red-ground suzani exhibited in Munich in 1981 (Bausbach, pl. 40)."
Not to play a game but the following picture, a comparison of these two suzani side-to-side exhibits one subtle but glaring difference.
Can any of our readers spot it?
RK doesn't like guessing games, or arrows shot in the dark, so we will be glad to tell everyone what that difference is.
At first these two suzani look exactly identical, notice each motif is placed exactly the same, as well as the sizes and proportions of these motif are equally as identical.
The overall size of the rugrabbit dot com piece is listed, however, this is not the case for the Atlantic Collection one, as no size is give in the book or in the additional separately published Structural Analyses addendum (page numbers 279-290).
Frankly, it's unfortunate the listing for no. 263 says "No analysis available" as it would facilitate knowing for 100 percent sure these are or are not the same piece.
Regardless of incomplete information there is a difference, and while only small it is significant enough to raise the idea these pictures are not of the same suzani although they appear to be.
Look carefully and you will see both have a central rosette with 5 radiating spokes, and in the Atlantic Collections piece those spokes are bright red.
Now look at the rugrabbit dot com embroiderie's rosette spokes -- they are purple, the same color as the ground.
Now RK will be the first to admit these may be incredibly similar examples that are in fact two different embroideries.
That's possible, and so is winning the Irish sweepstakes. Possible but highly improbable, and RK would easily venture to say that chance is smaller than winning the Sweepstakes.
What is going on here? We have never seen two suzani that are "19th century", as dodds dates both of his, so exactly identical.
Lacking a hands on comparison, or better structural info about them, we can answer we don't know.
An addition piece of the puzzle is in dodds's caption in the Atlantic Collections book: "Accents in bright red silk..."
Well RK is a good detective/researcher and this notation, added to the comparison of the two pieces shown above, raises more than our eyebrows.
Do they raise yours?
One more fact that is not really germane, but surely mentionable, is the bogus "bellini" dodds used to rip-off LACMA was also shown in the Woodmere exhibition and in the Atlantic Collections catalog, page 19 plate 19.
The caption, again we have been told written by dodds, says 16th-17th century although now RK knows there is hardly anyone, even if there is anyone, who would agree.
Another interesting "coincidence" is the 1981 Bausbach catalog dodds references for the suzani, in his caption for it, is the same exhibition the bogus bellini first appeared for public sale.
Perhaps that might explain some hidden connections?
RK can't say, but we can say with confidence the "bellini" is not 16-17th century, rather we have proven it is a later, genre period reproduction/revival dating at best to the mid-18th century and more probably the early 19th.
As for the suzani discrepancy?
Only a direct hands on examination will remove the question RK has voiced, and considering dodds's now almost 5 year head-in-the-sand reaction to our accusations about his "bellini" we sincerely doubt any proof either way will be forthcoming from dodds.
As a final comment pictures, especially printed and even more so digital ones, can often be deceiving-- had there not been the comment about the "Accents in bright red silk" we would not have publicly questioned dodds's offer.
That said, and considering dodds's reputation as a proven liar and a cheat, RK feels questioning his suzani offer is on quite solid ground. Also why did name-dropping dodds not list, in his rugrabbit dot com offer, the suzani is illustrated in Atlantic Collections, surely an importance reference for most buyers?
Go ask dodds, and while you're at it ask him why he, or nobody else, has tried to refute our claims about his "bellini", his rug expertise and the illusion of his honesty, both personal and professional?