Category: American Rugs

Rug of the Week

Antique American Hooked Rug.

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American hooked rug #17201, size 7’6″ x 7’0″

Everything, at least as far a decorative new carpets are concerned, is looking pretty abstract. A brief glance at interior design and floor covering magazines gives one a strong sense of what is out there: asymmetrical, border less, shaded or bold, but no outlines, nothing representational or traditional, totally abstract, just like the wall candy paintings. This must be something innovative. Carpets never looked that way before.

Or did they?

Carpets that resemble abstract, non-figural paintings have been around since the 1920’s, just not “Oriental” ones. A select group of American hooked rugs are squarely in the abstract style. When one thinks of antique American hooked rugs, whether fabric or yarn, kitschy, folky, rustic depictions come strongly to mind: dogs, farmhouses, vases of flowers, and so on. We have plenty of these; just peruse our inventory and you can get your domestic Americana itch scratched.

But Klimt? Carpet number 17201 (7.0 by 7.6, c. 1920) is totally abstract, but has a style redolent of the early 20th century Viennese master, not to mention other artists of the period. The swirling, vibrating circle-in-square corner pieces may remind one of Van Gogh’s vibrating suns or Munch’s sky pattern in “The Scream”. But the real excitement is in the random array of colorful squares and rectangles densely filling the field. Make them round and you get Klimt’s coruscating backgrounds in his pre-1914 portraits. Exactly. Where Klimt used gold, the anonymous hooked rug artist employed yellow, but the effect is similar: a mobile effect, shimmering, with colors coming forwards and receding, the eye kept moving, but never tiring. Klimt’s pictures have figuration, representations cores or essential elements, whereas this carpet is wholly formalized.

But you can’t (or won’t) hang this antique American hooked carpet on the wall. Or can you?  The small, square size is perfect for the wall. And what a focus of the room it would be! Don’t forget, a hooked rug is lighter, area for area, than an oriental, and hanging small ones is one way to display a collection. Larger abstract fabric hooked carpets, e.g., our number 17461 (10’2 X 9’2″ c. 1920) and number 19942 (12’4″ X 9’0″9.0 c.1920) are best displayed on the floor with furniture, no matter how contemporary, properly deferential. The absence of borders in all three pieces makes then ultra-up-to-date. One on the wall, another on the floor. Wow! A collection just got started.

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American Hooked rug #17461, size 10’2″ x 9’2″
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American hooked rug #19942, size 12’4″ x 9’0″

New England Collections makes contemporary hooked rugs in repeating, allover or modular patterns, but custom orders are entertained and copies (that slippery word), or creative interpretations, can be made of any piece in our vast collection of antique American hooked rugs or from a photo or drawing.