MAK Permament Collection of Carpets is Reopening
April 8, 2014
(press release below)
With an unusual and all-new design concept which will be unveiled on 8 April 2014, the MAK Permanent Collection Carpets will sweep visitors away into the tranquil fascination of the carpet-maker’s art. A selection of over 30 individual objects is to present an impressive survey of the MAK’s holdings of distinctive, high-quality carpets with an emphasis on the unique examples of 16th and 17th-century Persian and Mamluk rugs that make this one of the world’s best-known and most valuable such collections. The new permanent collection presentation will also feature a handmade textile work by Turkish artist Füsun Onur in dialog with Viennese designer Michael Embacher’s architectural design concept, in which the objects will appear to float above the floor.
In addition to a review of developments in carpet-making between the late 15th century and the 18th century, this presentation will also spotlight carpet-art as an overarching theme of European interiors. Classic Safavid and Ottoman carpets of the 16th and 17th centuries, highlights of Oriental artisanry, represent the highlights of this new presentation. The most valuable holdings include the MAK’s world-famous Safavid hunting carpet (central Iran, Kashan, 1st half of the 16th century), a Mamluk carpet from the late 15th century (Cairo, Egypt) and a figurative Indian carpet from the era of Akbar the Great (Lahore, northern India, ca. 1600).
The classic Middle-Eastern output is complimented by a group of knotted-pile Savonnerie carpets made in France during the 18th century, including one that belonged to Emperor Josef II of Austria (Paris, France, mid-18th century).
The reign of Louis XIII in France saw the development of one of Europe’s most famous carpet manufactories—the Manufacture royale des meubles de la couronne, des tapis façon de Perse et du Levant—which, in terms of style, was oriented toward the carpet output of the Eastern Mediterranean. The items exhibited in the
MAK Permanent Collection Carpets document the pioneering design language to be found in such French works. “The inclusion of the Savonneries in this presentation of classic Middle-Eastern carpets makes for an aesthetically pleasing demonstration of the interaction between cultures and of various formal developments,” explains Barbara Karl, curator of the MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection.
The presentation will be rounded out by around 30 three-dimensional objects from the MAK Collection that serve to highlight diverse interactions with artisan output.
An example would be the design-related parallels that one can discern between tiles and plates from İznik and the Ottoman niche and prayer rugs from Istanbul and Bursa (2nd half of the 16th century). A page selected from the world-renowned Hamzanamawill illustrate the use of carpets in their original context, while baroque engravings will point out formal similarities to the Savonnerie carpets from France.
Spatial Concept and Artistic Intervention
Viennese designer Michael Embacher’s architectural concept for the collection’s reinstallation was inspired by silk, a material that figures importantly in the production of exclusive knotted-pile carpets, and is reminiscent of the interior of a silkworm cocoon into which carpets have been “woven.” The individual exhibits themselves, supported by thin steel cables, appear to float above the floor as they lean toward visitors at different angles. In this way, Embacher gives rise to entirely new perspectives on these precious textiles, which one is more accustomed to seeing presented either rolled out on the floor or hanging on the wall.
A floating installation of symbolic quality, created by Turkish artist Füsun Onur specifically for the new MAK Permanent Collection Carpets, will enter into a subtle dialog with the new design. Onur’s large-format piece of cloth, bearing the embroidered motif of a female angel, can be read as a poetic reference to the tension between cultural and religious ideas; at the same time, it helps sensitize the observer to this tension’s ambivalence. Onur creates a sphere for subjective experience and internalization, disassociated from ideological interpretations of the world.
With his studio EMBACHER/WIEN, Michael Embacher (*1963, Vienna) occupies an interdisciplinary niche between architecture, design, technical construction, custom craftsmanship, and artistic ambition. Following studies in architecture at the Vienna University of Technology and employment under avant-garde architects Günther Domenig and Sepp Müller, Embacher struck out on his own in 1993. His studio’s work encompasses a multitude of architectural projects as well as exhibition concepts, private buildings, and the development of patents. A passion for materiality, perfect craftsmanship, and a striking spatial language are characteristic of Embacher’s work. His best-known projects include the Gartensalettl in the Privy Garden at Schönbrunn Palace (2002), the Summer Stage on Vienna’s Danube Canal (1996), the central archive of Filmarchiv Austria in Laxenburg (2004), the design of Austria’s self-presentation on the occasion of its EU presidency (2006), the retail premises of the Wiener Silber Manufactur (Viennese Silver Manufactory) (2009), and the re-design of the MAK Permanent Collection Vienna 1900. (embacher.co.at)
Füsun Onur (*1938, Istanbul), who creates sculptures, installations, spatial studies, and sound works in addition to her drawings and textiles, studied sculpture at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts (Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi, today’s Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University) under Ali Hadi Bara from 1956 to 1960. Following stays at the American University in Washington, D.C. (Fulbright Scholarship, 1960) and at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, Onur returned to Istanbul in 1967. As a representative of the feminist avant-garde, she assumed an important position within Turkish contemporary art during the late 1960s. Her works have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Art and Sculpture Museum, Istanbul (1990), at the fourth, sixth, and twelfth International Istanbul Biennials (1995/1999/2011), at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2005), and now at the MAK in Vienna (2013). Füsun Onur has received international recognition for her work, particularly since her participation in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel.
For more information please visit: MAK