Sunday, February 22, 2009
Arts and Crafts, Mission and Craftsman – Are they the same thing?
This was the question that got me started wandering through a wealth of information at my local library and on the internet.
To start, I found out that Arts and Crafts is the name of the informal movement and that includes the Mission and Craftsman styles. This movement started in the second half of the 19th century involving artist, architects and craftspeople that produced in the spirit of anti-industrial ideals and social reform. The term Arts and Crafts was coined after the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1888 in London. This was just the beginning of my awareness of my ignorance – I had always associated Arts and Crafts with the US.
The movement was one based more upon philosophy than style alone. Much of the inspiration for the movement came from writing by theorist such as John Ruskin’s (1819-1900) book on social and art criticism “Stones of Venice” published in 1853. Ruskin wrote of factory work as a form of tyranny that denied the expression of the worker’s individuality. Below is a small sampling of Ruskin’s writings:
“It is only by labor that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy, and the two cannot be separated with impunity.” John Ruskin, 1856
“No one can teach you anything worth learning but through manual labor…” John Ruskin, 1877
After reading Ruskin’s book William Morris (of the Morris chair fame) left his religious studies as an Oxford undergraduate and dedicated his studies to art. And you can see the influence in the following quotes from Morris below:
“A work of utility might also be a work of art, if we cared to make it so” William Morris, 1893
“I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few or freedom for a few.” William Morris, 1988
Sorry, but I love the philosophy of this movement and I will move on to its translation into the style along with images later. And isn’t thinking about art the first step to visualizing it?