Re: The Repair Question

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Posted by Robert Torchia on April 20, 1999 at 07:59:15:

In Reply to: Re: The Repair Question posted by Steve Price on April 20, 1999 at 04:31:51:

Actually my parents collect African art and the real problem is bugs. Also watch out for fakes.

I had some additional thoughts on the repair question. A few years ago a friend bought highly attractive "Yoruk" East Turkish rug, the three turquoise Memling gol type with an apricot border and lots of cochineal. It was in absloutely horrid condition, and there were numerous slits. As it stood the rug was worth $1,200. The dealer did a magnificent job bringing the piece back to life, but then charged $4,500 for it. Frankly, I don't think that the ends justified the means in this case. Certainly the restorer used wool harvested from discarded Yoruks of a comparable vintage, but my friend was still paying for a recent reconstitution, however wonderfully done.

This all reminds me of my business. An old painting is in horrible shape and a restorer fixes it at a hefty price. I think that the artist attribution ought to be changed to the restorer's name because he has become the de facto artist by virtue of the extensive restorations. But then he has made the painting presentable as in the case of my friend's rug. We are discussing the idea of authenticity, which is terribly important the art world. Evidently the post-modern approach favors stabilization or conservation as not to interfere with the original. I totally agree with that position, but have qualms when the piece is not "presentable." As for Anatolian kilims, muddied or not, there is a school of thought that one in a million of them predates 1800. But that is another subject.

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