Sunday, October 28, 2018

When is a pictorial not a pictorial?

From the time I started in the business, around 137 years ago (or so it seems), I have been fascinated by the pictorial weavings of the Navajo. So much so, in fact, that when Tyrone Campbell asked me to help with the second edition of his seminal NAVAJO PICTORIAL WEAVING 1880-1950, I jumped at the chance. Now that the book it out, and getting good reviews from all our friends and relatives, I just have one thing to add to anyone who would care to listen: A WEAVING WITH LITTLE PICTORIAL ELEMENTS DOES NOT REALLY QUALIFY AS A PICTORIAL. Hear me out. To be a true pictorial, a weaving must have a pictorial design that serves as the central or most important element of the visual field. Does a Ganado with two little bow and arrow designs in the center qualify? To me, no. But does this qualify?
To me, darn tootin' it does, because while the cows are not the largest part of the design, they visually dominate the landscape of the weaving. Now, compare it to this one:
This one has pictorial elements, but they do not dominate like the cows in the first weaving. Therefore, it is a rug with pictorial elements, not a pictorial rug. A fine distinction, maybe, but an important one.