Re: I Buy Fragments

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on December 19, 1998 at 15:37:33:

In Reply to: Re: I Buy Fragments posted by Steve Price on December 19, 1998 at 08:29:39:

: Dear John,

: I don't sneer at fragments and I'm sorry if it sounded like I was doing so. My point was simply that some of the properties of the intact piece are lost in fragments, which seems self-evident enough to hardly need saying. To some people considering certain pieces, those that remain are sufficient to make those pieces desirable. This, I believe, happens most often when matters like provenance and ethnographic significance are extremely important criteria. It happens less often when total impression from the physical properties related ttoo the appearance and feel of the object are of greatest importance.

: Do you disagree with this? I think the Tekke fragment you posted is very interesting, and might even reach for my Visa if I met it in person. But I'm pretty sure I'd prefer the intact rug if it were available and if affordable.

: Regards,

: Steve
Dear John, Irwin and others:
I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. I, like Steve and most others, do not sneer at fragments. If I did, I would be sneering at myself and several of my favorite pieces. Perhaps I should. The point, however, is that in considering the fragment posted by Irwin I did not see much to get excited about. Yes, it photos well and can be read. But in my mind it is completely lacking in other attributes that have been discussed by me and many others in this salon concerning what elevates any piece, fragment or complete. In my judgment, the fragment in question is well handled in design but is no different, no more inspired or inspiring than any number of virtually identical rugs woven and generally available. Because of what I see as mere competence in a standard pattern it hardly serves as even a study piece. It likewise is not significantly older, more rare or ethnographically interesting than other pieces of its type in good condition. The bad dyes hardly matter, they just confirm what we already know. The same cannot be said of your, and hopefully some of mine, fragment,. I assume it stirred sentiments or filled a hole (excuse the pun) in your collection that needed to be filled or could not be filled with a mint condition one. It appears to be a second quarter of the 19th century Tekke main with unusally vibrant color and intriguing elements with the border. Certainly owning it can be justified on its own terms and in terms of understanding related examples and Turkoman weaving generally. Compare also comments concerning Pic #4 - certainly we see competence, but we also see something more in the pinwheels and medallion. In sum, a piece that shows skill and understanding of a tradition, but also demonstrates a
ability to expand beyond mere copying toward real expression.
In my experience, collecting is an ongoing process, even evolutionary. Fragments certainly can play a role in understanding not just a particular rug, but even a larger body of weaving. This is what I was trying to express when I indicated that Irwin's choice did not impress me the same way it did him. Different people see it differently for sure and I did not intend to sneer at fragments, collecting them or Irwin's right to disagree.
Happy Holidays. Michael Wendorf

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