“My sister started visiting Morocco a couple of years ago,” Elizabeth Bernhardt told Gallerist on the phone this morning. “She loved the carpets there, and bought one hundred on that first visit.”
The sister to whom Ms. Bernhardt’s referred is the Brooklyn painter Katherine Bernhardt, who is perhaps best known for her vigorous portraits of supermodels, all rail thin and sharply angled.
Given that massive acquisition of Moroccan carpets, it is perhaps unsurprising that they have begun appearing in Katherine’s work. For her 2010 show at the Canada gallery, on the Lower East Side, some of her paintings featured the bright, energetic patterns of kilims, and there were carpets for sale, too.
On Dec. 8, a new batch of carpets will arrive at Canada. Elizabeth, Katherine, and Katherine’s husband, Yousef Jdia, whom she met at a souk in Essaouira, Morocco, recently went into business under the name the Magic Flying Carpets of the Berber Kingdom of Morocco, and they will install a “pop-up souk” at the gallery. Pieces will be available at prices from $200, for smaller, contemporary examples, to more than $8,000 for the largest vintage work.
“This is an extension of her interest in women’s work and portraiture,” Suzanne Butler, a partner at Canada, told us on the phone this afternoon. “It’s part of her practice and her persona.”
Canada is not taking a cut of revenue from the four-day sale, which has been scheduled in between exhibition. “We’re helping them get the business going,” Ms. Butler said. “She has an absolute love for and devotion to these rugs, and her rug paintings.”
Those who visited this year’s Armory Show may recall that the gallery also had a number of Moroccan carpets for sale at its booth. “[P]aintings by Michael Williams, Xylor Jane, Carrie Moyer, Katherine Bernhardt and others establish a rewarding pictorial dialogue with the floor, which is thick with Moroccan rugs,” New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote at the time.
Elizabeth, who has a Ph.D. in Renaissance and Italian Studies, handles the details of the business, but said that Mr. Jdia, who has sold carpets for a number of years, and Katherine pick most of the works, on visits to Morocco. “She has an incredible eye for them,” Elizabeth said.
“Sometimes people call these carpets fallen paintings, and they hang them on the wall” she added. “They’re art for the wall, or the floor.”
Click the slide show above to see works that will be on offer at Canada, unless they sell privately before Dec. 8. Elizabeth Bernhardt has written commentary to accompany each image.