Home > LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase >Cover-ups Rarely Succeed: re LACMA
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Sun, Jun 26th, 2005 11:35:52 AM
Topic: Cover-ups Rarely Succeed: re LACMA

Unfortunately the cover-up and damage control for that dud of a Turkish rug LACMA purchased from dennis dodds continues unabated even though the futility of such efforts are manifest to all concerned.

The museum exhibited the rug in the third part of a show entitled “Luxury Textiles East and West”, organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum’s Department of Costume and Textiles. The year long, three-part show, was mounted, according to the press release, to “…showcase some of this departments finest treasures”.

There were some excellent pieces on view as the photo below demonstrates:

However, the Turkish re-entrant rug dodds conned the museum into purchasing, which is visible in the center of the photo, could surely not be considered as one of them. In fact, it did not belong in the exhibition at all considering the gross lack of integrity, beauty or historical importance it carries.

On the stand in front of the rug the following label appeared:

Turkey, Anatolia, Konya region
Double-Niche Carpet
16th century
In sixteenth-century Europe, carpets from Turkey were luxury imports. Rarely placed on the floor, however, these richly patterned textiles were draped over tables, beds, or chests to proclaim the wealth and status of their owners. The natural dyes in this carpet are barely faded, providing a rare opportunity to experience their original vibrancy. The clear shapes and clean lines of the carpet’s design give it an unusually strong architectural quality.
Knotted wool pile on wool foundation
98 1/2 x 64 1/2 in. (250.19 x 163.83 cm)
Gift of the 2004 Collectors Committee

While that wishful thinking of a description and dating might have fooled the curator responsible for championing its purchase, the staff of the museum and the 54 patrons of the Collectors Committee it surely hasn’t been able to pass muster with RK.com or any other knowledgeable Turkish rug experts.

That said, it did initially get the seal of approval from walter denny, louise mackie and john thompson but denny’s recent retraction and forward dating of the rug to circa 1750 implies he, mackie and thompson erred, big time.

But the dreadful lack of importance dodds’s carpet portends isn’t only visible to acknowledged experts, as many ordinary rug collectors with little or no expertise in historic Turkish Village weavings have also realized that as well.

It seems the only group who still believes the fairy-tale dodds conjured up is the administration of the museum itself and, of course, dodds.

Sadly the old expression “There’s none so blind as those who refuse to see” is perfect for this situation. It’s a modern day re-enactment of the Emperor’s New Clothes story and a pathetic one at that.

RK.com is not going to allow this dastardly transgression to be packed away in moth-balls and hidden in some inaccessible nook in the museum. We will not rest until ms Rich and her administration face the reality of having squandered the trust given them by those 54 patrons of that Collectors Committee and a considerable amount of money on an inferior, late genre copy.

It is neither museum worthy or historically important.

Perhaps the only veritable fact in this mess is the title of installment of that show where the rug appeared – “Opulent Interiors” – because, in truth, the only place a rug like that belongs is on the floor in an opulent interior decorating job, not on view in a major museum masquerading as a 16th century masterpiece.

Author: jc
Sun, Jun 5th, 2005 09:25:57 AM

We have recently learned the rug is now in LACMA's conservation department for scrutiny.

On Thursday of this week we called and briefly spoke to Cathy McClean who is charge of the first phase of this process. It seems LACMA is now trying to "figure out" what exactly the purchase of dodds's rug has gotten them into.

So far the rug's areas of restoration have been carefully mapped out and, supposedly, LACMA is pursuing "dye testing" to "help them understand" the nature of the dyes with the objective of having this information provide more "positive dating".

RK's conversation with Ms. McClean was terribly brief, in fact she would not tell us anything except to confirm the rug was actually in her department for "testing". She referred us to Ms. nancy thomas, the deputy director and then said good-bye and hung up the phone.

We have already had a talk with ms. thomas, who astute readers will remember made the brilliant statement in the LA Times article that " that the change of the carpet's date does not make it significantly less valuable and that it would not be returned to the dealer.” Of course the “change in the carpet’s date” she refers to was Walter Denny’s change of heart after he saw the carpet in person and “studied it for two hours”. Denny was, you will remember, one of the three “experts” who vetted the carpet for LACMA and declared it to be circa 1550.

Denny’s re-dating of the carpet to the end of the continuum, 1650-1750, goes hand in hand with our opinion the rug is, at best, a late 18th century post period genre reproduction.

Needless to say we didn’t bother calling ms thomas, who impressed us during the conversation we had with her several month go with her lack of genuine concern for finding out the truth about the carpet and then her convincing us of the fact with the dopey and obtuse comments she made in here interview with the reporter who filed the times story.

It is truly a shame she is representing LACMA, as a number of other people at the museum we have spoken to really do have genuine concern for their institution, as well as far superior intellectual capacities to understand what happened with this purchase and where it went wrong.

RK is quite pleased LACMA now appears to be on the right track and is apparently eschewing the cover-up mode they adopted in favor of finding out the truth.

Our position has not changed since we first spoke to dale gluckman, the unfortunate and naive curator who fell for dodds’s highly exaggerated claims about his rug and recommend its purchase to the museum’s benefactors. We offered our help and assistance then and that offer is still open. We hope LACMA will soon face the fact the rug is not museum worthy and return it to dodds.

As soon as we have any more developments on this ongoing situation we will immediately publish them here on RK.com.

We also hope more of our readers will take a few minutes to write a letter to the director of the museum, Andrea Rich, to express their feelings and hopes the museum will soon realize how unimportant dodds’s carpet is and how little it adds to the great collection of Islamic Art LACMA owns.

Once again her address is:

Andrea Rich
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, Ca.

Author: jc
Tue, Apr 5th, 2005 09:42:40 AM

Since Gluckman, the naive curator who swallowed dodds's specious spiel hook-line and sinker, and Rich, the museum's president who believed a cover-up was more important than a thorough examination of the facts, are both leaving maybe this situation will turn around.

Lord knows, it's about time for LACMA to realize what a disaster presenting a late genre copy like dodds's rug will eventually do for its reputation.

For not only does LACMA want to build up its status as the most important museum in America's western region but it is also clear from their ambitious plans to enlarge the physical plant of the museum, and to enlarge their collections, LACMA is trying to compete with Chicago, Detroit and even New York's Metropolitan Museum.

Obviously living in the shadow of the Getty, the world's richest museum, is something LACMA has decided to try and change and RK.com well understands this motivation and sincerely wishes them all the best in that effort.

However, this episode of the dodds rug purchase and LACMA's refusal to honestly deal with it doesn't, in our mind, go along with its lofty objectives mentioned above.

RK has been in touch in a rather covert manner with some of the administration at LACMA and now that Rich's days are numbered we hope cooler heads will accept the reality of the situation and do the right thing.

By the way, no matter how many pounds of moth-balls LACMA packs dodds's dud of a rug in the moths of truth will gnaw away at it. Trust us on this one, folks.

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