Home > BULLETIN >Night Sky or Baluch black out?
email: [email protected]
Thu, Nov 29th, 2018 02:47:51 PM
Topic: Night Sky or Baluch black out?

Friedman Benda gallery hangs Baluch rugs

Collector interest and prices for Baluch pile rugs, and some of their flatweaves, have come along way in the past three decades, as anyone who follows rugs at auctions well knows.

And although RK is surely no fanboi, or even an interested party, we do recognize a miniscule percentage are old enough and interesting enough to justly command even our interest and the new price levels they occassionally achieve.

We did not mention beautiful enough as well because we all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is not really a provable aspect worth debate.

On the ladder of financial worth Baluch weavings have always been at rugDUMBs bottom. This, of course, was, and still is, one of their most important selling points, as it allows less well-healed collectors, who were not weathy enough to buy Turkmen, Caucasian and Turkish examples, to form collections.

In the past decade, though, even the lowly Baluch pile weavings have shown they, too, can at times command eye-opening sales, or at least asking, prices.

RK is not going to debate if this newly found price structue is justified. Nor are we interested in hearing arguments on either side of this question. What is, is, and far be it for anyone to cheerlead or denigrate the price someone is willing to pay, or to ask.

No doubt the number of publications devoted to Baluch weavings has played a major role in this price increase, as well as increasing the number of collectors. These books and articles naturally provide a strong and understandable basis for this new market and its adding at least one zero, and occassionally even more, onto yesterdays old price structure.

We all know there is no shortage of later Baluch rugs. The same can be said for post midle 19th century Turkmen, Caucasian and Turkish(Anatolian) weavings.

But when it comes to significantly earlier examples, especially those that are best of type or with particularly rare designs and/or unusual materials, its another ball of wax for sure

All these weaving areas demonstrate the same equation there are not many choice examples available. Always was and always will be. So when they appear it is beyond doubt they will generate wide interest, and often surprising prices.

There is one important factor, however, that separates rare, early Baluch rugs from those others. Can you guess what that is?

Simply put its the fact the iconography found on these Baluch rugs is always derivative of what can be found on the weavings from these three other geographic areas.

RK is well-known for our statement: Show us any Baluch rug and we will show you where its (watered-down) inconography originated and has been copied.

For us this is the major reason we have never bothered to collect Baluch weavings. We do presently have a couple in our collection, and in our fifty years of collecting have owned a grand total of perhaps twenty or twenty-five others.

We well recognize the superior materials and coloration best of type Baluch rugs exhibit. But since this can also be said for weavings made in those other three areas, plus their far more original, interesting and archetypal iconographies, we just cannot become enamoured or a fan of anything called Baluch.

Horses for course, and for those who do not really care about how well a weaving does at recreating ancient, historical designs and patterns we can see the attraction you feel and, like the idea beauty is in the beholders eye, we surely will not try to get on the other side of any argument proponents might muster.

Nor will we ever try to debate the price someone might ask for, or pay for, any outstanding and commendable Baluch weaving.

All that said and done we do become vocal when we see what we can only call incredible ridiculousness when it comes to extolling non-existent or highly exaggerated virtues of any type of a weaving, be it a Baluch or any other, or putting a totally absurd and enormous price on it.

Now then lets not overlook the obvious -- a true masterpiece can and will lend itself to high praise and rightly shatter any already established price structure.

This is an immutable law of the art world and one that cannot be discounted or negated.

Yes, we know, this brings into question what is a masterpiece, and the more fundamental question who is the final arbiter to make such a declaration.

Again, we will not open this can of worms and leave it to your own judgment.

There are no brainers everyone can agree on, and justifiable jump balls, near misses and complete failures. And there are times the masterpiece boundary becomes so trampled and obliterated to make it into a mockery.

Such is the case, we are sorry to report, with the recent and ongoing exhibition of Baluch weavings and contemporary art now on view in New York City at the Friedman Benda Gallery (515 west 26th Street).

Titled Under the Night Sky it attempts to make comparison betweem certain contemporary art works (C/A) -- paintings and sculptures and a group of Baluch pile rugs.

Not only is this a painfully trite premise, but from the publicity photos of the exhibition we have seen, we do not understand how most, in fact almost all, of the C/A on view has anything to do with any night sky. See for youself in the three pictures from the gallery website below.

These photos appear online on www.friedmanbenda.com, but they do not contain any prices. RK spoke to the gallery and they sent us the official price list. And that is the source of these totally crazy, unsupportable, prices.

Putting this aside and granting artistic license to the gallerys organizers, and unnamed anonymous curator and owner of the Baluch rugs (more about this follows), we cannot as easily absolve whomever made-up the fancilful and preposterous prices hung on the Baluch rugs.

Before we get into that, here is the publicity blurb accompanying the exhibition.

Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems enchanted after all.

The night sky remains an enduring source of inspiration. For millennia, this universal cover of darkness at once symbolizes life and death, fascination, fear, immorality, regeneration, and a blank slate for our projected dreams and desires.

Under the Night Sky explores the numerous ways in which the frontier of the night sky influences the human psyche and continues to hold artists in its grip. Spanning the spaces of Friedman Benda and albertz benda, the exhibition brings toether significant works by modern, post-war, and contemporary artists and designers with a selection of seminal Central Asian rugs. The works in the exhibition engage with the night sky on both conscious and unconscious levels, featuring the interplay between literal homages to the night sky and works with looser interpretations of the theme, whose makers innately channel the emotive presence of night.

The centerpiece of this exhibition is a rare collection of 19th century Baluch and related tribes. Palettes of midnight blues, coral and cherry reds, and emerald greens are often punctuated by white floral and geometric motifs, which symbolize prosperity and fertility. These textiles on an unconscious level evoke the visual effect of luminescent stars amidst the night sky.

Seminal Central Asian rugs? What does this mean? While it is easy to concede the Baluch rugs are all better than average, some more so that others. It is not possible to concede any of them deserve the modifier seminal. Also calling them a rare collection, which on the surface is a very ambiguous phrase -- is the collection rare or are the examples rare, just one other questionable premise this write-up and the show itself raises.

The man behind this exhibition and the owner of the Baluch weaving is undoubtedly michael black.

He said more than a year ago he would be organizing and mounting an exhibition in a major New York art gallery that would comapre contemporary art with early Anatolian rugs.

As is par for the course with mr black his words seem to rarely carry through to action and although we welcome him or anyone else who wants to publicly exhibit weavings we just cannot see how putting outrageous prices on good but not great, forget about masterpiece, weavings -- be they Baluch or any other genre does anything but further the impression many people have that rug dealers are crooks.

We will be delighted if mr black takes the time to try and counter our impressions by writing in to our discussion board.

We would also enjoy hearing from any readers, fans of Baluch rugs or not, with their comments.

Author: jc
Fri, Jan 11th, 2019 06:46:42 PM

In the current issue of that rag hali there is a review of michael black's exhibition. RK was not surprised to see his name remained unmetioned by Elizabeth Parker, Christie's former NY rug department head, who penned it.

She must know him. And we also question why Parker did not mention even one of the astronomical prices each rug carried, as seen on the gallery price-list.

As for her comments?

We can only suggest reading them for yourself. After we'd again be surpised if you though you'd learned anything about them or the "night sky".

Author: jc
email: [email protected]
Wed, Dec 5th, 2018 02:08:59 PM

RK emailed michael black and notified him we had placed this article online.

We did this, as a courtesy we always do, to inform anyone who is a subject of our online musings that they have been mentioned.

Several hours later we received several emails from black, the most interesting one we reproduce below:

"Missed the whole point you moron.

it was northing heavy just about seeing the stars in the flowers; you are Just Too Stupid.

this write up shows how dumbass you are; you missed the whole point.

You are nothing but a jealous Too Stupid Fool. A really jealous moron."

OK, that's his opinion.

But facts are facts, and black just cannot ever get them striaght. He is too blinded by our having refused to cooperate with him and give him information for free.

Since his world revolves around anyone and everyone kowtowing to his demands he expected RK would as well.

Fat chance, mr black.

We then email him back and asked what was this meaning that we supposedly missed. If there was no meaning how could we miss it??

He replied

" You totally miss the point always. There was no meaning in the show; none whatsoever. you are too stupid to realize this."

Oh, OK, mr black, you get a gallery in New York City to show some fifteen or so Baluch rugs you own along with some contemporary art but now according to your emails this had no meaning other than your seeing stars in the flowers on the rugs.

So let's all just forget about the time energy and work it took to arrange the show, get the Baluch rugs and the art there, do publicity and whatever else galleries like that do to get people to see what they have done. And this is all done for no reason.

Phuleeze, medacious michael, this might be a story you can float past your two young children but it surely ain't one RK or any other adult with enough sense to not chew the wrapper with the gum would accept.

You claim you just wanted to hang up your rugs and look at the stars in the flowers. Doing that in a gallery means you wanted others to look at them as well, right.

Plus your putting 'prices' on your rug seems to imply you wanted to sell them, right?

And to think putting prices like $165,000 or $330,000 sure seems to RK you are either crazy, since no Baluch rug has ever sold at that level, or just a total moron, thief and cheat.

This Baluch show demonstrates you are all the above and more.

When we offered mr. black the opportunity to discuss his show here on RugKazbah.com he replied:

"why would i waste my time- you missed the point and anybody who has any brains will see that you are just a Fool and a Too Stupid one at that."

If there is no meaning to the show, black's own words, why does he continue to claim we missed the point?

RK and anyone else reading this knows it is michael black who missed the point.

Hanging a bunch of good but not great Baluch rugs in a gallery, at the same time presenting a bunch of lesser contemporary art, and putting absurdly enormous prices on those Baluch rugs makes a real point.

And that point is michael black is a fool who plays the emperor's new clothes game but sadly for him is no emperor.

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