Re: Similarity? Another try.

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Posted by Steve Price on January 18, 1999 at 06:52:51:

In Reply to: Similarity? posted by Yon Bard on January 17, 1999 at 11:53:03:

Dear Yon, Wendel and Michael,

I hadn't expected the issue of stylistic similarity to generate much discussion, and I suspect it is because my original "essay" introducing the subject was unclear. Let me take another crack at it.

The minor motifs in the two images I put up as examples look to me (and to some others, although evidently not to everyone) to be strikingly similar in style of drawing. I do not think there is any link between them, as I tried to say (unsuccessfully; that's nobody's fault but mine). That is, I don't believe Matisse was influenced by an enccounter with a Kaitag piece, nor could the Kaitag women have seen anything by Matisse.

Why, then, did I even mention this similarity, much less put it into the title?

Funny you should ask. The reason is that rugfolk very often use stylistic similarities as the foundation for hypotheses about historical transfer of motifs in textiles. I offered this as a cautionary example, where stylistic similarites that appear to me to not be trivial, but that cannot possibly represent a transfer of motifs in either direction (and I think everyone so far agrees that such transfer is nearly unthinkable in this instance).

As a point in passing, the modern art-like nature of much Kaitag work has been pointed out by others. The Introduction to Chenciner's book ends with the following: "Indeed, the more abstract among the embroideries stand on a par with the work of 20th century masters such as Klee, Miro and Matisse."

Steve Price

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