*Message was: DECEMBER 2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rachel Bauch (323) 857-6543 email@example.com
WORLD RENOWNED ARDABIL CARPET RETURNS TO LACMA AFTER INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION EFFORT
The Ardabil Carpet: A Sixteenth-Century Masterpiece Conserved January 22 - May 11, 2004
LOS ANGELES-Centuries of transatlantic journeys, illustrious owners, and international intrigue are woven into the history of one of LACMA's most important works of art. The Ardabil Carpet: A Sixteenth Century Masterpiece Conserved is the first time the huge, twenty-three-by-thirteen-foot carpet is displayed since its recent return from the Royal Palace Textile Conservation Studios at Hampton Court Palace, London for cleaning and repair. The exhibition is presented in the Atrium of LACMA's Ahmanson Building from January 22 through May 11, 2004. LACMA's Ardabil Carpet and its identical mate at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London are among Iran's most brilliant expressions of aesthetic and technical achievement. These carpets were created in a period of cultural, political, and religious flowering during the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1732), under whose rule carpet weaving evolved from a rural craft into a national industry and internationally acclaimed art form. The renowned silk and wool masterpiece is so finely worked that it has approximately 350 knots per square inch, 15.5 million knots in total, and probably required six weavers working side by side at least four years to complete. The Ardabil Carpets are predominantly deep blue, vibrant red, and soft yellow. Their overall composition is based on a central medallion with radiating pendants and quarter medallions repeated in the corners. The design is derived from bookbinding and manuscript illumination, as is typical of many medallion carpets. The carpets, however, include a unique design element: lamps are depicted projecting from the top and bottom of the central medallion. Medallions and lamps are set against a dense field of flowers growing from scrolling leafy vines. The carpets were created in northwestern Iran, possibly Tabriz, and their name is derived from the belief that the carpets were originally housed at the large shrine complex honoring a Safavid Sheikh in the city of Ardabil. "That two identical Persian court carpets have survived makes these carpets extraordinary, but rarer still is the fact that they are signed and dated," says LACMA Costume and Textiles Curator Dale Carolyn Gluckman. At one end is an inscription: a couplet from a Persian ghazal, or ode, by fourteenth century lyrical poet Hafiz, just above a signature and date. The following is woven into the carpet's wool pile: Other than thy threshold I have not refuge in this world. My head has no resting place other than this doorway. -Work of a servant of the court, Maqsud of Kashan, [in] the year 946 [1539-40]
The carpets sustained damage while still in Iran. Following their sale to an English carpet broker at the end of the nineteenth century, the lower field and wide outer border of one was removed to restore the other. The now smaller carpet was repaired and given a new outer border. The restored carpet was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum, while the other was kept undisclosed in fear that its identical existence might diminish the value of the V&A masterpiece. The "hidden" carpet was eventually sold to an American businessman on the condition of secrecy. The secret Ardabil Carpet traveled back and forth between continents and wealthy owners before being lent and made public at a major exhibition of Persian art in London, where it dazzled J. Paul Getty in 1931. Getty purchased it eight years later. He donated it to the Museum of Science, History, and Art in Exposition Park, and it became part of LACMA's permanent collection in 1965. Repairs and the addition of the replacement border caused strain on weaker sections of the original carpet creating small tears each time the LACMA Ardabil Carpet was unrolled; High acidity from an early washing meant that the carpet could not be displayed safely. In 1999, LACMA and Hampton Court conservators joined forces to develop a cleaning protocol to rinse out accumulated soil and soluble acids from the carpet. The cleaning was done on a wash table, measuring twenty by thirty feet. Tears were repaired and support fabrics were then stitched to the back of the carpet to facilitate safe handling. The entire process took nine months to complete. Beginning January 22, the Ardabil Carpet will be on display in its current resting-place: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
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About LACMA: Established as an independent institution in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has assembled a permanent collection that includes approximately 100,000 works of art spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present, making it the premier encyclopedic visual arts museum in the western United States. Located in the heart of one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, the museum uses its collection and resources to provide a variety of educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the people who live in, work in, and visit Los Angeles. LACMA offers an outstanding schedule of special exhibitions, as well as lectures, classes, family activities, film programs and world-class musical events.
Exhibition Credit: This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was supported by the generous gift of J. H. Minassian & Co. In-kind support was provided by KJAZZ 88.1 FM.
Curator: Dale Carolyn Gluckman, Curator, Costume and Textiles, LACMA
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General LACMA Admission: Adults $9; students 18+ with ID and senior citizens 62+ $5; children 17 and under are admitted free. Admission (except to specially ticketed exhibitions) is free the second Tuesday of every month, and evenings after 5 p.m.