TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Defending the Noble Fragment
Author  :  Kenneth Thompson
Date  :  09-03-1999 on 04:39 p.m.
wkthompson@aol.com Dear Salon members, As much as I enjoyed Mr. Gorden’s friendly diatribe, I would like to join the ranks of the Defenders of the Fragment. Over the centuries, amateurs of antiquities have collected almost nothing but fragments, since that is mostly what ancient civilizations leave behind. A large number of these are ugly or severely wounded pieces with great historical but limited aesthetic value. But by no means all of them. As long-time collectors of “fragments” of various forms of art and artifacts, my wife and I know that fragments can also be beautiful entities in their own right. Among other odds and ends, we have a few late Roman/Coptic textile “fragments” (decorative roundels from cloaks or stoles) which stand up very well on their own. The same is true of parts of old Chinese silk robes. These all have one attribute in common: the extant fragment encompasses the aesthetic qualities of the whole. A more pertinent example of the part subsuming the whole is the splendid Tekke carpet that John Howe posted in this discussion and that my wife and I are lucky enough to be able to appreciate many times a day. It is a magnificent weaving: wonderful color, very fine drawing and composition and detail, a velvet pile of beautiful wool patinated by age, etc. Though there was once more of it, the part that exists is a microcosm of the quality of the whole. We don’t need any more. Having the entire carpet would satisfy all sorts of possessive urges, and probably add to its monetary value--but not to the joy we experience. The same principle of a portion reflecting the beauty of the whole may mark the difference between the Lotto remnant and the Salor piece that Steve Price illustrated. The former is rare, venerable, and of historic interest, but—to me at least-- it touches no aesthetic chords out of context; while the latter’s qualities seem to embody the beauty and spirit of the whole. Since someone was willing to plunk down $12,000 for it, the Salor piece apparently got its message across eloquently. Sorry for such a long-winded posting, but I had to stand up for the honor of deserving fragments! Thanks for the chance to participate, Regards, Kenneth Thompson

Subject  :  RE:Defending the Noble Fragment
Author  :  Steve+Price
Date  :  09-03-1999 on 05:20 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Kenneth, I absolutely agree with you, which is probably not a big surprise. But, based on my correspondence with and reading of Sam Gordens stuff, I suspect that he does, too. He is deeply offended by what he sees as the shameless promotion of what Grandma Price called the shmatter as a collectible work of art, superior even to the original item. I'm less offended, but not impressed with the efforts to convince me that they're beautiful. The folks whose tastes are swayed by such hype are, in my opinion, the hustler's lawful prey. I don't see Sam's distinction between two dimension art (paintings and rugs) and three dimensional art (sculpture and architecture) as really bearing on the artistic value of fragments. Some fragmentary antiquities are very artistically satisfying, and I have a few that I love dearly. I don't collect shards of pottery and if I did, it wouldn't be because I see them as works of art but because I take comfort in things that are older than I am. The kinds of things that Sam refers to as true Der Kazarians are just as unaesthetic to me as they are to him and to you; I'll bet that he would see the Salor fragment from the Sotheby's sale as a very beautiful textile, just as we both do. Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Defending the Noble Fragment
Author  :  Vincent Keers
Date  :  09-03-1999 on 05:32 p.m.
Dear Kenneth, If you're happy, its o.k. If I'm happy with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lise, but only the eyes its o.k? I like her eyes more then her smile. If you only see her eyes you'll think she's tender, soft, wise, understandig. It's when you see her mouth in combination with her eyes, she makes me shiver. She knows, what's goïng on in the world (buying cheap, selling expencive). She smiles and looks like she goïng to wash my ears. So the painting does something with, to me. I don't know if Leonardo wanted me to shiver. I don't know if Leonardo ment it to be this way. Some things just evolve in the process of making it. It's hard work, with ups and a lot of downs, making art. But we do agree that it is art. Maybe the making of a rug isn't art. With kind regards, Vincent Keers

Subject  :  RE:Defending the Noble Fragment
Author  :  Kenneth
Date  :  09-04-1999 on 07:51 p.m.
wkthompson@aol.com Dear Vincent, Your point is well taken. When I added my thread, I was trying to find a quick explanation of why some fragments appeal to me and others horrify me. So there are lots of logical loose ends in my reasoning. Ultimately, it is a question of de gustibus non est disputandum, which is why aesthetics are so much fun to argue about. As for your Mona Lisa analogy, any work of art is obviously diminished by the loss of a part, and in something as intimate and subtle as a portrait, a tiny loss may alter or destroy its essence entirely. The same would certainly be true of many carpets, though in the case of a repetitive design, one might still be able to get a sense of the whole from a fragment. As for whether carpets are works of art, those one likes are; those one doesn't like, are not. I like the idea of your ark. If it were mine, I would fill it with all the worn but noble Turkish kilims that are being dismembered to create cushions, handbags, etc. If "designers" did the same to paintings, you would be able to have your Mona Lisa's eyes on a tote bag and her smile on a cushion. Not a happy prospect. With best regards, Ken

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