The buzz in Stuttgart this month is the Fraunknecht exhibition at Sarah Haberkern’s gallery, Art and Antik, across the street from Nagel Auktion Haus on Neckarstraße.
As one might expect from Bertram Frauenknecht there was a smattering of outstanding Shahsevan soumacs but surprisingly they took second seat to a number of other categories.
Among these categories Bertram’s Persian bags were numerous and quite good. There were 2 eye catching Afshar chuval faces, a big boteh number and a quite old medallion example that was even better. His Kurds were whey better yet with a chunky salt bag, and an unusual mina khani interpretation bag face that emphasized one of the elements of this design as a center medallion. Other Persian bags included a unique complete mixed technique Bakhtiari chuval with pile closure panels, a wonderful djidjim fragment, and a late but great mixed pile and warp-faced plain weave Shahsevan band that displayed one of the most entertaining mythical beasts seen yet. Rounding out the Persian offerings there were two classical fragments.
As expected, the few Turkoman weavings in the show were all of a singular nature. His small Yomud asmalyk had an unusual palette and unique interpretation of the ashik design. Three tent band fragments were shown; a Yomud with off the charts scale, an Arabatchie that screamed “old”, and a rare Salor example. For those that appreciate condition there was a perfect, full pile, 3 gul “Eagle Group” torba and an ak chuval in perfect shape with pristine colors.
Even the Belouch were present with 2 vividly colored balishts, a complete, full pile, square prayer rug, and what looked to be a very old camel field rug.
Turkey was well represented with two 18th century kelim halves, both band formats, one plain and the other with completely geometric, simplified, variations of the dragon theme + a Konya fragment sporting a concentric sawtooth medallion resolving into a pair of parallel crenallated poles at top and bottom. In addition there was a large18th century medallion Konya, an intriguing 17th century Sivas, a radio carbon dated Konya with exquisite borders, and a rare design Lotto fragment. Caucasians were represented with an early village keyhole medallion rug that well might be unique and one half of an early Bidjov notable for its scale, color, and articulation of design.
China was a bit under represented with only one rug fragment but of course it was rare and old: an early Ming piece that is essentially the corner of the rug with a good bit of plain field, the corner element (1/4 of a radiant disc) and sections of both the vertical and horizontal borders with a meandering line and demi-motifs that could easily be extrapolated into an all over field design.
The textiles represented one of the two star attractions of the show. There were 2 Sefavid panels; one composed of mille fleur botehs and the other showing delicate vertical bands, one 16th century Ottoman velvet fragment in a beautiful shade of lac, a fantastic green 16th century Sicilian velvet, a wonderful Ottoman era Algerian embroidery with vivid but mellowed colors, a Song dynasty (11th century) kesi hair wrap with unique banded design bravely attributed to central Asia, one of the earliest embroidered Turkoman hair pieces that this reviewer has ever seen, and a Russian brocade that is quite unlike anything else.
The real beef of this event, the raison d’etre, though was 3 fragments of a nature seldom seen in gallery exhibitions. Two wool central Asian weavings, one dating to 500 B.C. and the other, a youngster, dated to 100 B.C. Each is produced in a warp-faced twill and both have remarkably fresh colors for the age or any other age. The third fragment is unique to my experience. The design(s) and articulation thereof is geometric and extremely refined given the low horizontal knot count. This refinement of design is achieved by its high vertical count. The weave is packed beyond the weightiest Bidjar resulting in what seems to be a structurally singular weaving. Viewing the piece creates an extreme desire to see more.
I find Frau Haberkern to be quite charming and hospitable. The show is scheduled to end on 20 May but rumor is that it may extend a few days beyond that.
Location: Art & Antik, Neckarstraße 198, Stuttgart