TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  I can love fragments
Author  :  Henry Sadovsky
Date  :  08-29-1999 on 12:41 p.m.
Dear Mr. Gorden, Thank you for this interesting topic and the thought provoking points which you raise. I see this as an opportunity to further focus on a discussion thread previously stimulated on Salon by John Howe. As I recall, John's topic was the criteria that individuals use in determining the collectability of a weaving. Of course, condition, or lack thereof, is one of the important considerations. That some fragments are desirable, even highly desirable, is clear. The well documented behaviour of several individuals "proves" this. Your concern is that in the great majority of such instances this desire is not justified. Your notion is a familiar one. There is an Ideal, what you call Aesthetic, that can, ideally, be rigorously defined. Those with the greatest wisdom and sensitivity will most clearly comprehend it. Any object can be evaluated by comparison to this immutable Ideal. The weaver/artist attempts to materialize the Ideal. The best will come closest. In the case of rugs, the vision of the Ideal has dimmed with time; that is, for the weavers/creators, not for the beholders/aesthetes. Of course, many will prefer their Ideal to have undergone the ideal amount of aging and mellowing. The Ideal, after all, can do with the proper patination. I submit that your dislike of fragments (or is it mostly a dislike of the profit made from some of them) can be understood as nothing more (or less)significant than your personal subjective response to them. Likewise with my love of some shattered weavings. Which one of us is more justified in our feelings? Your fellow ruggie, Henry Sadovsky

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Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  08-29-1999 on 01:07 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Henry, Sam and Anyone Else, In general I don't find fragments attractive, but occasionally I run into one that is. What's special about those? One thing is that they had very good colors and tactile qualities, they weren't simply fragments consisting mostly of old warp and weft. Another is that they had some coherent design elements intact. I think this may be a very significant factor. Let's look at another art form, music. Beethoven's 5th Symphony is an easy example, because almost everyone is familiar with it and can join me in a little thought experiment. First, hear in your mind any of the first four notes. What word would you use to describe it? Music? Not a chance. My word would be sound. Now hear in your mind any two of those notes, in their proper order. What would you call this? Music? Nope. Sound? Well, maybe. But noise works best for me. Now let's hear the first four notes. Starts to sound like music, at least to me. I think what's happening is that with all four we get an intact coherent design element. And I suspect that something similar (in formal terms, at least) is going on when I find a fragment that I like. One point: taste is not a moral issue, and we have to put up with the fact that not everyone likes or dislikes the same things we do. Collector preferences get pretty disparate once you leave the mainstream. If you need proof, I refer you to the collection of airline barf bags at http://www.airsicknessbags.com. You might be interested to know that it links to 5 or 10 more collections of these things. Not my bag (pardon the pun, I just couldn't help myself), but they are somebody's. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Dimensionality of rugs
Author  :  Marvin+Amstey
Date  :  08-29-1999 on 02:57 p.m.
mamstey1@rochester.rr.com While I agree that there are many promoters in our field - without use for the art except as an excuse to sell their "rags" - I disagree with some of your arguements, particularly the point about rugs being two dimensional. This may be true for flatweaves (almost by definition), but not so for pile rugs (fragments). I used to be a condition freak - still am to some degree - but a fragment of a tentband or a Turkomen trapping with all the elements save one medallion can be a three dimensional work of art that equals the Rembrandt. Even the flatweave, if it has the field and border elements, even if incomplete, has the ability to show off the art of the dyer and the art of the weaver who chose the dye and design combination. Secondly, there is nopthing wrong with collecting new rugs or anything else for that matter as long as the collector understands and enjoys his/her pursuit. Lastly, thanks for a well-done essay. Best regards, Marvin

Subject  :  Re: Fragmentary evidence
Author  :  Jerry Silverman
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 01:33 a.m.
Steve's analogy to music struck me as being particularly apt. Beethoven embroidered his four-note theme into dozens of variations and embellishments in his 5th Symphony. But he needed all four of the notes. Three wouldn't have been enough. It's the same for me with a rug fragment. If there's enough there to convey the entire thematic message of the rug, I'm a happy camper. Naturally, there has to be more than just enough of the design to deduce what the whole rug must have looked like. There must also be enough pile, original color, ends, and edges. Even a fragment of a Mughal hunting rug must meet these criteria for me. Just being a piece of something wonderful isn't enough. The wildly optimistic prices attached to such pieces puts me off. In my judgment there is clearly a hierarchy of fragments. Cordially, -Jerry-

Subject  :  More on the music analogy
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 08:21 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear People, Remember, the thesis was that the opening of Beethoven's 5th symphony is just noise until you get to the fourth note. Seeing that at least one person (Jerry) wasn't doubled up with laughter at my analogy of musical to rug fragments emboldens me to take it further. So I invite you to join me again in a thought experiment. Starting with the first four notes to Beethoven's 5th, add the next note, then the next, and so forth. Pretty jarring, I think, until we get to number 8. Then, suddenly, the jarring quality goes away and a whole new dimension opens up, way beyond the effect of the first four notes. I think what's happening here, and in rugs, too, is that the whole work of art consists of appropriately connected mini-works. And I also think I may be on the verge of understanding Chris Alexander's notion of connected centers as a key to aesthetic perception. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE: fragment integrity
Author  :  Yon+Bard
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 09:26 a.m.
Jerry, I think your requirement of being able to infer the entire thematic structure of a rug from the fragment is too stringent. Here is a fragment of a (presumably) three-gull Saryk chuval which is quite satisfactory in itself (to me at least), yet it tells you nothing about what the borders and elem where like.

Regards, Yon

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Marvin Amstey
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 04:53 p.m.
mamstey1@rochester.rr.com Dear Yon, You are correct: your fragment appears to be great (and when handled probably is), but there is no information about border and elem. That's why, I believe, Steve's image of a Salor chuval fragment is better (John's idea that there is a heirarchy of fragments just as there is a heirarchy in whole rugs seems to work). Regards, Marvin

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Jerry Silverman
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 06:47 p.m.
Yon, Your fragment is WONDERFUL! It supports both sides of the argument. It is either a really neat little piece of the best of a weaving tradition and meritorious for that alone. Or it is two sandwiches short of a picnic - and as great as it is there's not enough. Or it is both at the same time, potentially one or the other dependent entirely on the standards of the viewer. Cordially, -Jerry-

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 08:28 p.m.
Marvin and Jerry: Why do we have to rank things? Yes, the Salor fragment is more desirable than my Saryk (I was the underbiddder on the former!), but is it really because it has borders or simply because it is a uniquely beautiful thing? (to be precise, it is not unique since, as you all know, the other half was in the Cassin collection). To return to our subject, would you prefer a mediocre fragment with border to a great one without? For my part, I enjoy each fragment for what it has, and don't worry much about what it hasn't except as a matter of purely intellectual curiosity. Regards, Yon

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  08-31-1999 on 06:04 a.m.
Dear folks - Yon's last comment above suggests another potential problem with Mr. Gorden's thesis. There seems to be no systematic relationship between the completeness of a piece and its aesthetic quality. The position that might be easiest to defend would be to hold that "completeness" is a "necessary" component of high aesthetic quality. I would like to hear Mr. Gorden say more about how closely he would advise that his thesis be applied. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  08-31-1999 on 09:22 a.m.
To elaborate on my previous remarks, I think that the Saryk fragment is just about perfect from the esthetic point of view; if it had a bit of border remaining here and there, it might be more interesting, but certainly less beautiful. People whose sole criterion is esthetics should certainly prefer it as is. Regards, Yon

Subject  :  RE:I can love fragments
Author  :  Sam Gorden
Date  :  09-02-1999 on 07:22 p.m.
gordsa@earthlink.net Dear Mr. Howe, Of course there is a "systematic relationship" between the completeness of a piece and its aesthetic qualities. I suggest you read my reply to Wendel Swan in which the importance of the weaver's intent is stressed. The question which you must ask yoursels is is this rag the concept of its creator. Your reply must be[i no/i]! Can a fragment be beautiful? Of course it can! Remember beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. The French say "Chacun a son gout." Each to its own taste. I do not hate fragments! What I hate is the coniving of museums, media, cliques, etc. who unite to convince rug lovers that these derelicts are great works of art sometimes even exceeding its aesthetic value if it were now complete. I assume that they are motivated by a stern dedication to self-welfare. In considering the acquisition of such an item, one should contemplate the following: (1) Can the piece be restored to its maximum aesthetic value without expunging those which age has given it. (2) Is the intent of its creator intact. (3) Does it have an emotional appeal to the great majority of our culture. Sam

Subject  :  RE:Artist's intent
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  09-07-1999 on 01:48 p.m.
I submit that an artist's intent is in most cases unknowable, and even if known, irrelevant. A friend of mine has long ago advocated a very perceptive (to me, at least) definition of a work of art: It's something to which different people can bring many different interpretations and still derive joy from. At any rate, if we worry about intention, then we couldn't enjoy a chuval unless hanging on a yurt wall full of stuff, nor an asmalyk unless it adorns the flank of a bridal camel, nor the Ardebil carpet unless it was lying on the floor of the shrine for which it was made. Obviously, we enjoy these object even though they are out of the intended context; why not fragments too? Regards, Yon

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