Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gustav Stickley - REWRITE of 02 FEB posting

Gustav Stickley was a beginning of the 20th century furniture maker, architect, and spokesperson for the Arts and Crafts movement. In 1901 he founded The Craftsman, a periodical based on the philosophy of the English Arts and Crafts movement. Later the magazine took on a definite American perspective. In 1903 he started the Craftsman Home Builders Club (more about this in my next entry) to spread his ideas about architecture.

I like Stickley’s simplicity of design and excellent sense of proportion, which can be seen in his tall clock design (c. 1902-3) – see clock illustration. The clock embodies the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement – simple straight lines and rectangular shape. The clock is currently in the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art – a great place to visit if you are ever in New York.

All of his furniture was handmade and designed to be simple and useful. He made his furniture from native American oak with exposed joinery, such as through tenons - see table illustration. Upholstery, if applied, was done with natural materials like canvas and leather. Varnish could be used to finish the wood, but it was never painted.

In spite of his talent, in 1915 he declared bankruptcy. Originally from New York, I occasionally encountered some of his work in my day-to-day travels but never realized its value – at least monetarily. For example, in 1988, Barbara Streisand reportedly paid $363,000 for a Stickley sideboard. Boy did I miss some golden opportunities.

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