Re: visual arts - rugs and icons

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Posted by R. John Howe on May 21, 1999 at 22:14:04:

In Reply to: visual arts - rugs and icons posted by Niall LEONARD on May 21, 1999 at 19:07:37:

Mr. Leonard -

First, as one of the "managing" group on Turkotek let me thank you for your nice comment in an immediately preceding post.

Here you wrote in part:

"It would be interesting to know whether many collectors of rugs (an art form in which individual amendment of standardised designs determines appearance) have moved on to e.g. icons (Russian, Greek or whatever); and how rug-appreciators stand in relation to art generally."

My thoughts:

Some rug collectors on this board have made comments recently suggesting that they have a knowledge of and perhaps collect in other areas. Steve Price and Michael Wendorf exchanged comments about African tribal artifacts. I don't know of an instance that moves in the one particular direction you mention (i.e., ikons) perhaps because except for the Caucasuses and perhaps Armenians in Turkey Christian influence in most rug-producing areas seems negligible (although cf. Gantzhorn, who sees Christian influences everywhere).

In an article in Oriental Rug Review (Oct/Nov, 1992, pp.18-22) there is an inteview of an older Dutch rug collector, Jan Timmerman, who mentions in that inteview-article that he collects not only rugs but also old books, old glass bottles, antique Dutch skates, antique Chinese porcelain, and when he couldn't find antique skates of new types, Delft tiles with skaters and other ice activities on them. Now Mr. Timmerman is a wealthy man and so he is likely not typical excepting that he may be an example of how collecting interests such as rugs can progress.

I do know that collecting interests change. Quite a few people are initially enormously attracted to many Caucasian rugs and then find later that ones that really attract them are harder to find.

Now on your broader question, Christopher Alexander, whose aesthetic theories we recently discussed and experimented with on this board writes in his book, "A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art," that analogies to the use of color in oriental rugs can be found in many of the 19th and 20th century "colorists." He mentions Van Gogh and Gaugin but is especially struck by similarities to the work of Andre Derain, Matisse and Bonnard. Matisse is famously quoted as advising painters to examine the use of color in oriental rugs and Sargent is said to have given up attempting to paint a particular oriental rug in detail that was near his human model because he found it so beautiful that she could not compete with it. So there are those connections with painting.

I know some rug collectors who have become seriously interested in the broader field of textiles. This apparently happened to Mr. Meyers who founded the Textile Museum here in Washington, D.C. And some others have become seriously interested in antique furniture, which make sense, since many of us first came to oriental rugs when we began to furnish with "antique" furniture.

We sometimes look at other areas of visual art to attempt to determine where patterns in oriental rugs might come from. I posted some North African Roman era floor mosaics (Timgad Museum, Algiers) recently that were done in the 2nd to the 4th centuries A.D and looked very much like rugs.

That's what I can think of quickly. Interesting question.


R. John Howe

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