With the latest issue, number 189, that rag hali continues its long-standing attempt to broaden its purview from antique oriental rugs to the broader topics of textiles and other non-western tribal art related subjects. This is because the dwindling amount of academic/scholarly research and interesting information about carpets, both in house generated or taken from outside venues, is not substantial enough to warrant continuing such a publishing venture.
But this situation is not all bad, just most of it is thanks to the inabilities of this magazine to adapt itself to changing times.
As always RK finds exception to the mindless mutterings editor, ben evans, invariably, and once again this issue, tries to pass off as an editorial.
First up from evans is:I want to draw attention to the listing of Michael Franses as Halis chairman.
Now RK is not exactly sure when exactly franses repurchased that rag hali from former publisher Sebastian Gandchi and his boyfriend, moneyman backer and lover but it is at least two years ago.
Since then franses has been the chairman in any and all sense of the word, and now his and the magazine finally, publicly, acknowledging it can only be seen as rather tardy, as well as typical for franses an inveterate dodger of admitting truth and reality, particularly concerning his own actions.
Since RK is a skilled translator of that rag hali speak lets us make clear what this public notice is all about.
When franses repurchased the magazine from Gandchi he was still gainfully employed by the Doha/Qatar Museum Authority Organization. But that was then this is now at the beginning of 2016 franses was booted out of his job, kicked out of Doha where he had been living since 2009, and presently has been flopping around like a fish on the deck of a fishing boat trying to figure out what to do next in his so-called and self-professed golden years.
After trying, as we have heard it, to get financial backing elsewhere and anywhere for several grandiose publishing (and exhibition) projects the Qatar Museum Authorities were going to sponsor and fund, and failing miserably since they pulled the plug on these adventurous undertakings, fransess only move is to once again hang his empty hat back on that rag halis coat rack.
After all, what else could an seriously under-educated, pompous grifter like michael franses, whose whole life has been trying to find clients to buy his mostly over-priced and more than often seriously over-dated and over-rated carpets and textiles, do for a second act now there are no more DallOglios or rich Qataries to keep his checkbook balanced?
So it seems franses will stupidly try to pick up where he left off when he and robert pinner sold the magazine 30 some odd years ago. Dumb move as that rag halis death spiral will continue with each issue selling less than the previous.
The only hope, as RK has continually suggested, is to make it totally digital and thereby reduce costs.
Maybe then it will turn a profit for the first time in many years.
But franses has proven himself to be no visionary, and RK is sure he will go down with the ship before he rights it. Or should we say writes it, pun intended?
Next on the franses front evans tells readers franses is Now retired and living in Italy, he is working on a number of publishing projects to be produced by Hali as well as providing strategic advice as we expand our book publishing, event organizing and specialist tour activity.
Might sound good on tinkerbell dusted paper but in the real world, somewhere evans could never succeed or end up as the editor of anything other than his sock drawer, all those projects are aimed at a dwindling market and a yearly declining population of possible readership. So please tell us who is going to buy these planned grandiose books franses has been hyping, or any support special events like a bust of a hali fair, or sign up for ever repeating rug tours to Transylvania or Turkey?
If we are not the first, then let us be not the last to disabuse evans, franses and anyone else who believes such project have any genuine commercial future other than as forgotten before they happen money losers. So much for that plan, chairman franses, better get back to the drawing, or is it your oujji, board?
And let RK put some words in evans mouth and add to his statement "But while some things change but stay the same... other things remain the same but change".
This tongue twister mouthful, not to say improbability, has nothing to do with the carpet world, as it is irreparably changing and those changes to anyone with 20/20 vision are radical and earth-shattering. The major one -- hello mr evans and franses for the umpteenth time is the lack of any new, young, collectors and dealers to make up for the grim-reaper decimation of the old guard.
This is why that rag hali has gone from selling 3500 plus copies per issue to now not even half that number.
Believing there will be a turn around in this demographic anytime soon is as foolhardy as trying to walk on water wearing lead shoes. Sorry, it just aint gonna happen.
The writing is on the wall and anyone who thinks the antique rug colleting business will turn around and suddenly go back to where it was twenty or thirty year ago is a fool in complete denial.
This is not to say there are no silver clouds in this nuclear winter darkened sky. Finding them, however, requires more than just doing the same old thing or poking around like a blind man with a stick, both of which are the modus operandi franses and that rag hali have proven incapable of transcending.
Great early carpets, flat-weaves and textiles are selling for record prices that are increasing instrumentally each year.
The only problem here is their rarity, but since a number of old collections are hitting the auction block, and will continue to in the coming decade, the few of these masterpieces that have been unknown and unpublished, as well as those with have been recognized, will galvanize interest and make new records. They will also be astute buys for those knowledgeable enough to recognize them and financially able to acquire them.
This type of acquisition might well attract the interest of new comers and the more publicity, outside the limited confines of rugDUMB an organ like that rag hali operates in, these sales generate the more likely this will happen.
Without bait it is impossible to go fishing and its high time those like franses who profess to be the leadership learn how to navigate the art world instead of scheming to bilk their clients with the old emperors new clothes ploys of selling over-rated, over-dated, weavings.
To overcome the dual drawbacks of the extreme rarity of masterpiece examples and their lack of any provenance requires actions that so far have been non-existent in carpet studies.
First is an admission this is the case, something that will definitely dent the practice of selling lesser material as anything but because as the saying goes to get what you want you have to lose what you have. This newly minted honesty will in the long run do wonders to improve chances for wider public appreciation and awareness a weaving can be and is on par with other types of art like paintings and sculpture.
And by employing new, cutting edge methods of scientific testing to discover provable criteria separating these few carpet, flat-weave and textile masterpieces from the multitude of later generic and genre copies, they will finally become recognized for what they are and properly valued.
Weavings were once upon a time incredibly valuable, venerated and appreciated.
This is not the case today, but it can once again be repeated as long as there is proof, and science is the only way to provide this evidence. It should, therefore, be in everyones interest but regrettably this is far from what is happening.
A magazine like that rag hali could become such a focal point, and were franses intelligent and capable he would be spear-heading efforts to raise money to fund scientific investigations and not trying to publish more picture books or mount exhibitions that are forgotten even before they end.
Teaching old dogs new tricks is a well known foible and sadly rugDUMB will remain mired in mediocrity and declining as long as franses and the rest of the myopic selfish, douche bag asshats in charge continue to waste the few precious resources on self-gratifying and enriching pursuits.
Clearly franses is not the only guilty party, RK could provide a list but why bother?
When a total incompetent, feckless shit-head like bruce, aka big-mouth bruce, baganz and a group of equally revolting board members were allowed, and yes even encouraged, to take down and destroy the Washington Textile Museum without one person except RK voicing opposition, it is obvious nothing is going to change in this lifetime.
OK, now that RK has once again said our piece with characteristic tell it like it is bravado we are famous for lets turn to a more humorous topic.
In this issue readers learn "Michael and Justyna Buddeberg, some of whose Tibetan rugs appear in this issue, have built a formidable collection of Tibetan art which will be published, exhibited and donated to the Museum of Five Continents in Munich in the coming months.
Now you might ask RK what could possibly be humorous about this?
Well, how about the gossip and rumors michael buddeberg, someone who RK has had enough contact with to know what a stuffed-shirt moron this man is, has been forbidden by the museum authorities from entering the Five Continents Museum ever again.
Yes, dear readers, this is what supposedly happened, and in what art-collecting universe would a museum forbid donors they should be honoring from even entering their doors before the public exhibition and publication of their collection happens?
Trust us in none other, and by the way the museum has plenty of reason to have done this, as we have heard buddeberg acted like such jerk and an imperious clown the museum had no alternative but ban him from any further interference.
So much for the lighter side of rugDumb.
Lastly, RK would be remiss not to make comments about the two-page review roaul e. tschebull has written about the dispersal sale of the rosalie and mitchell rudnick collection of Caucasian rugs.
But first a few words about the reviewer, mr tschebull, or tschebull-shit as RK prefers to call him.
Long year ago tschebull published an excellent monograph on Kazak rugs. Called Kazak and published in 1971 this was by the way tschebulls best and only real effort at anything that remotely could resemble scholarship.
At that time he was working for a major bank in New York City, and RK can remember well visiting with him and exchanging ideas and interest about rug collecting.
But tschebull soon was transferred by the bank and he left and returned to Germany.
About a decade or so later he returned, but no longer was he working for a major bank but had now morphed himself into a rug dealer.
Setting up a small shop in south-western Connecticut he became a purveyor of floor rugs and sometime commentator and reviewer for that rag hali, a role he continues to pretend.
RK says pretend because tschebull is truly a bull-shitter know-little, whose pseudo-expert status and knowledge is a thin as the veneer on a cheap piece of made in China furniture.
Mr tschebulls palavar is nothing but worthless pabulum, as this review of the rudnicks collection well demonstrates.
He has nothing of value to add other than meaningless platitudes, and should remain an author of brief picture captions like his Kazak book, which has no real text in any sense of the word, rather than someone who strains to say something but says nothing.
We are not going to trample into the dust tschebulls comments about the rudnick pieces he chose to illustrate except one, the soumak khorjin, lot 1, in the sale.
Long ago, in fact in one of the first posts to RugKazbah.com entitled Cute Animals Dont a Great Soumak Make, RK wrote about this khorjin and suggest readers check it out at the URL below.
In that post we compared the rudnick, ex-Herrmann, khorjin with another far earlier example that is most probably its archetype.
This brings us to question the circa 1800 date tschebull, grogan the auctioneer and others have hung on the ex-herrmann/rudnick khorjin.
This is nonsense over-dating by at least fifty years.
But we are not going to waste our time rehashing the reasons for our opinion. Go read the cited link.
Typically roual tschebull claims to be, and is heralded by some who know even less than he, to be an expert of these weavings. He is someone who supposedly has travelled in the Caucasus doing research.
However, from what we have heard tschebull only ventured there one time many years ago and spent a grand total of three days researching. Now what can anyone learn, forget about what kind of research, could anyone do in three days?
Let RK tell you if you cant figure it out on your own: only the kind a bull-shitter like tschebull-shit claims.
Onwards and upwards.
His review claims rosalie rudnick even learned how to repair and restore her purchases. Har Har
Because, like the thin veneer on that cheap WalMart Chinese furniture, this knowledge and experience madam rudnick supposedly developed did not help her notice the major purchase of her collection, and most expensive by a factor of 5, the Star Kazak, which is not included in the sale, was nothing but a totally over-restored, contrived confection that has been fifty percent or more recently repiled.
So much for the expertise tschebull-shit credits rosalie rudnick brought to her collecting efforts.
RK has in the past days written about the rudnick disposal sale but we did not mention the following.
Each piece in the catalog lists the date it was acquired. This is highly interesting because it clearly shows how the knowledge and taste the rudnicks exhibited throughout the 35 years they were collecting did not in any way progress or improve.
In fact, one might say it seems to have decreased, as many of the better pieces were bought early on.
RK can explain this. Early on in their collecting career there was less competition for good Caucasian rugs, so the fact the rudnicks had an open and healthy wallet got them access to what was on the market.
But as time went on that access became less as other collectors were competing, and unfortunately for the rudnicks they got dusted both by their own limited knowledge but more so by rosalies belief she knew enough to be the decider in chief.
Their collection proves she did not, and while we would be jaundiced not to admit their collection has a few very good examples, it has no real shooting stars.
And todays market place being very cool to anything less will undoubtedly limit the success of this sale, besides those few better pieces that will surpass the estimates, which are all far less than what the rudnicks paid decades ago.
This is another proof their abilities, and those of their trusted advisors, were far less than expert, and in fact nothing but poor.
One last comment the over-restored Star Kazak was purchased from Thomas Caruso, who was the front man, salesman, for krikor markarian. Both of whom should be very ashamed of taking advantage of bo-peep rosale and mitchell rudnick, regardless of their rumored offer to return the rudnick's money, something the rudnicks should have jumped on faster than a starving man on a juicy steak. But supposedly they didn't proving, as another saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted.
RK seriously doubts the rudnick auction will be any huge success, but we do believe most everything will sell. But selling what was bought decades ago for far less than what was paid is never any sign of successful collecting, regardless of the few pieces that will eclipse their estimates. This is the real take away from any reputation that rag hali or anyone else could possibly try to say the rudnicks achieved.
Carpet collecting is a very difficult and dangerous pursuit and just because you have read a few books, gone to some exhibitions, and met some glib, supposed expert in who you confide trust does not in any way guarantee success.
Sadly for them, mitchell and rosalie rudick proved this maxim beyond a shadow of doubt.