Re: Exhibitions

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Posted by Marvin Amstey on January 14, 1999 at 08:10:28:

In Reply to: Exhibitions posted by Steve Price on January 14, 1999 at 07:53:00:

: Dear Friends,

: No rug conference is complete without one or more exhibitions, with the catalog usually published in book form. These are, for most collectors, second only to Dealer Fairs in popularity. Here we can see perhaps a few hundred selected pieces, and although we can't touch them, everyone enjoys seeing them and, sometimes, wondering how the decisions were made about what to include and what not ot include.

: Usually, preliminary selection is made by a local committee, and then a respected outsider is brought in to make the final narrowing down. Since being published in an exhibition catalog enhances a rug's value (by 25% or so seems like a reasonable guess of the increased value publication in a catalog brings), using an external selector reduces suspicions that people on the selection committee are profiting from their positions.

: Not using outside judges generates suspicions, and this became an issue at ICOC-8, in Philadelphia. Although the catalog ("Atlantic Collections") acknowledged that DeWitt Mallary selected the Belouch collection in the exhibitions, the general selection committee members names are not listed in the book or the program. Most likely this was simply an oversight; I had no trouble finding out who they were with a few simple inquiries, and their identity was no great secret.

: There was, however, considerable brouhaha at the conference over the selections. Of 259 pieces that were not from museum collections or part of the Belouch exhibition, 65 pieces (25% of 259) were identified as being the property of members of the selection committee. Another 21 were listed as "Anonymous", and rumor had it that many of those also belonged to members of the committee. Several of the committee members are dealers, and there is no way to know how many rugs were sold to their present owners by those dealers.

: There was no criticism of the quality of the exhibited pieces (at least, none that I heard), but the conflict of interest that the selection committee members had is obvious and much ill-will would have been avoided by using outside judges for the selection.

: Steve Price

I agree that outside selectors are least likely to be biased. I was present when the Chicago Rug Soc. had the rugs selected for their exhibition and publication; it was done objectively and and explicitly by Murray Eiland with about 30 of us trailing him to see what he would choose. In fact it was quite a bit of fun. The Toronto exhibit asked three selectors, including wendel, to come from another country; obviously they wee independent and not biased. I was unaware of the statistics you quoted about the ICOC selections, but as a contributor of two pieces, perhaps I'm biased in saying that they selected the best. However, as you stated, there is no argument about the quality of the pieces (save for the Beluch section). Bottom line: outside, non-biased committees are essential. Marvin

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