Eulogizing the Vok Collection
Detail; Vok Collection; late classic period version of the archetype Vulture Kelim in the deYoung Museum Collection and the only kelim we predict will attract serious bidding competition; 10,000 13,000 euro estimate.
Probably everyone in the carpet, kelim and Central Asian textile collecting world knows by now of the forthcoming dispersal sale of the Ignazio Vok Collection at rippon-boswell.
RK has already commented on this event and suggests readers visit it before continuing here. Those comments can be found in the Auctions Worldwide Topic Area under the title Vok Collection [email protected]
Todays mention concerns putting a layer of well-needed fact and truth over the overwhelmingly hyperbolic nonsense that rag halis winter 2014 issue seeks to anoint this event, and Ignazio Vok, with.
While it may appear harsh we do this with no malice towards Vok, someone with whom we have always maintained a cordial if distant acquaintance.
But enough is enough and thanks to the sickeningly bogus praise and accolades littering that rag halis article we feel obliged to offer the following facts about the man and his collection.
Below are a number of quotes from the article. What follows is RK's healthy dose of reality, something the editors of that rag hali have desperately buried under a deep layer of illusionary prose that quite honestly is complete bullshit.
We are sure anyone reading our commentary will come to the same conclusion.
For the past forty years or so Ignazio Vok has brought his personal style to the world of kilim and suzani collecting. Unashamedly pursuing pieces based on his own aesthetic sensibilities rather than traditional connoisseurship, he has helped transform the manner of collecting as well as what is considered collectable.
Calling Vok a dilettante, rather than a hand's on, collector describes him perfectly because he, like almost every other high profile collector on the rug scene, never bought anything unless one of his advisors OKed the purchase.
And irrespective of RK totally doubting he was collecting kelim or suzani in 1974, ie 40 years ago, RK first learned of Vok in the very late 1980s and we are sure thats as far back as his collecting history in this field goes.
And what is/was his personal style?
Let RK tell all you who dont know him.
He was truly an armchair collector whose writings contain not one sentence which could prove different. Vok, like those other aforementioned high profile collectors, published books where his contributions clearly left the heavy lifting to the hired-gun experts hired to write them.
RK was never interested in suzani, so we do not know who was advising Vok, but we do know the Anatolian kelim world and it was udo hirsch who played the leading role in Voks kelim acquisitions.
So in the end any mention Vok had a personal style is completely false.
Perhaps that rag hali is confusing collection style with his book promotion style and the glitzy parties with exhibitions that were given when Voks books were published?
Vok might have been an exceedingly generous host in laying on food feasts and wine (from his own vineyards) bacchanal for attendees of these fetes, but illusions to anything else that could be called collecting style are nothing but hot-air.
Same goes for implying he followed his own sensibilities rather than traditional connoisseurship.
You can be sure, as far as kelim purchases went, hirsch suggested acquisitions and then Vok chose what he liked. But this is definitely not the methodology a hand's on connoisseur follows, only one of an armchair collector.
Also what is traditional connoisseurship anyway?
Vok is to be credited with opening up the field to the appeal of the graphic aesthetic. Many of his carpets could be described as Modernistic in appearance, with designs reminiscent of Paul Klee.
Vok opened the field to the appeal of graphic aesthetic?
Was the field, pre-Vok, unaware of the graphic qualities Anatolian and other kelim, as well as suzani, possess?
Come on now hali magazine sycophantic editors get realVok did absolutely nothing in that regard, or any of the others you so moronically are crediting to him.
And let RK mention for the umpteenth time our disgust when we hear anyone alluding to the Klee-ness, or any other painters work, a rug, kelim or textile maintains.
In fact, it is these artists who owe debt to the anonymous weavers of those objects and not visa-versa.
Only the rug-dopey and ignorant would continue to try to put a totally unneeded modern art frame around them.
And get this absurd accolade: Vok has established a new visual language for rugs, its components now so deeply ingrained that we take them for granted.
OK, you hallucinating scribes at that rag hali, show RK even one sentence of that visual language or one component we all, thanks to Vok, take for granted.
Of course these eulogists cant, and were rugdumb not populated by silent sheeple RK would not be the only one to challenge this balderdash.
Voks keen interest in the mechanisms of collecting becomes apparent in his writings, as well as the knowledge that the collectors desire for absolute possession can never be fulfilled.
His keen interest in the mechanisms of collecting?
And what does this have to do with the subject at hand: What he collected?
Let RK translate the hali speak: Since Mr Vok knows hardly anything about the weavings he collected, a fact made clear by reading his writings, that rag hali had to find something, anything, even complete nonsense, to credit him with.
Hence their pointing to this keen interest in the mechanisms of collecting, whatever the heck that means.
OK, Vok is selling all and getting out of kelim and suzani collecting, but is such an action, mind you this has no financial reason as Vok is a very rich man who surely does not need the money, commensurate with someone who is described in that rag hali as cherishing his collection it is the effect they (my kelim and suzani) have on me, my perception of them and my relationship to them.
So, like a marital divorce, Vok is now saying goodbye to his former passionate involvement with these weavings; casting them to the wind to land where they may.
Might RK impugn such action belies there ever was any real relationship or passion that was not ego generated passion?
That rag hali writes: It is not hard to imagine a certain joy in seeing his pieces dispersed around the globe, allowing new assemblies and juxtapositions, forming collections in the likeness of other owners.
Sounds more like complete abandonment to us.
and the estimates are realistic
Well, they better be as the market for any less than genuinely great(archetype) kelim has shriveled up as any alert observer can see. This is something we already have discussed and explained.
Vok Collection pseudo saf, or multi-niche type, kelim that carries a 14,000 18,000 euro estimate with a probable reserve of 10,000-12,000 euro; a price level RK believes is not realistic in todays kelim market; therefore it and many others will remain unsold.
No doubt the Vok kelim collection is loaded with good examples, thanks to hirsch he did not buy inferior ones.
But, and this is the important point, the Vok Collection lacks examples great enough to generate serious sustained bidding from what is left of the old guard kelim crowd.
Note: if there is a new crowd we have yet to see hide nor hair of it, and while there is kelim as decoration interest in the 2,000-5,000 euro range this is focused both on complete/excellent condition examples, and well below any prices estimates or reserves that will be seen at rippon-boswell.
His suzani will fare far better and we await seeing just what type of realism was involved in setting their estimates, and more importantly their reserves.
Rippon Boswell is hoping to attract a new breed of buyer who can visualize his statement pieces in a modern interior
RK knows rippon-boswell owner, detlef maltzahn, will have to do more than wishin and hopin to attract this mythic new breed of buyer if he expects to achieve any level of success with the Vok Collection.
Twenty years ago it would have found many interested buyers but today will, we are sure, struggle to sell even 40 percent.
In summation RK believes Voks contribution to Anatolian kelim and Central Asian textile collecting history will be nary a footnote.
He was just another eager spender, like norbert prammer and others whose collections will probably soon be auctioned.
Vok relied on udo hirsch to be his guide without realizing hirsch was a business-man, who was first and foremost interested in making money.
Were hirsch to have only guided Vok to the best it is sure the Vok collection would contain no or hardly any Anatolian kelim, as the best of them were long before out of reach and unavailable.
So hirsch, like jurg rageth and other Anatolian kelim dealers who were trusted by collectors like Vok, knowingly or unknowingly talked up lesser pieces to sell them and then pocketed healthy commissions with a big broad grin. Or even the entire sale price when they owned the pieces, as was the case for many sold to Vok by hirsch.
Only time will tell if RKs predictions are right or wrong; but trust us theyre right, and Vok will undoubtedly have a reality moment at the end of the first auction.
One wed really enjoy watching