WHAT WAS THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT AND WHY WAS IT MORE SUCCESSFUL IN AMERICA THAN IN EUROPE?

By Julia Moser '08-'09

INTRODUCTION:

The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reformist movement that influenced European, Canadian, and American art, architecture, furniture, and decorative arts. The movement came toward the end of the nineteenth century as a retaliation to the highly industrial Victorian style of unnecessary ornamentation and gingerbread houses. It was begun in Europe, primarily Britain, by artists and craftsmen such as John Ruskin, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Their goal was to create objects whose design related to their function. For example William Morris designed book covers and fonts that had a relation to the content of the book. Designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement also wanted to express simplicity and a return to nature. Many arts and crafts pieces resemble organic structures or feature plants or animals. In Europe, the movement was aimed at recreating the virtuous world of craftsmanship that had been destroyed by industrialization. In contrast, the American Arts and Crafts Movement was about creating a "democratic design", meaning simple, good quality objects made for a broad audience. The United States also had the largest middle class at the time and therefore had the best conditions for the "do-it-yourself" aspect of the movement. One Hungarian critic described the American Arts and Crafts movement as "the realization of democracy in art." (1) (2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVjcyH72Vfo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93Q8hhDDyhY

ORIGINS (ARTS AND CRAFTS IN EUROPE):
www.springfieldlibrary.org/ gutenberg/art.html
www.springfieldlibrary.org/ gutenberg/art.html
http://www.creativelydifferentblinds.com/ColourThemesBlindswithaYellowTheme/WilliamMorrisWoodlandWeedsWallpaperVA.aspx
http://www.creativelydifferentblinds.com/ColourThemesBlindswithaYellowTheme/WilliamMorrisWoodlandWeedsWallpaperVA.aspx
http://thetextileblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/william-morris-and-machine.html
http://thetextileblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/william-morris-and-machine.html

The above patterns and prints are examples of William Morris's work. William Morris was an early British craftsman who, in 1861, set up a firm of decorators with some friends: Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. They began mostly making furniture and stained glass for Gothic Revival architects. The phrase "Arts and Crafts" had not yet been invented and the firm first worked under the headings of other movements with similar ideals such as the Gothic Revival Movement, which reintroduced medieval craft techniques, and the Aesthetic Movement, which claimed a new artistic seriousness for the decorative arts. All of these movements were meant as a reaction to the rapid industrialization sweeping the world and a return to nature and craftsmanship. (1)

This is what they were reacting to:

http://users.rcn.com/scndempr/dave/bedbreak/east/Geor02.jpg
http://users.rcn.com/scndempr/dave/bedbreak/east/Geor02.jpg
http://www.jamesdjulia.net/press_releases/pr_2007.asp
http://www.jamesdjulia.net/press_releases/pr_2007.asp


and this is what early European arts and crafts designers created:
http://www.william-morris.com/william-morris-a-short-history/4/
http://www.william-morris.com/william-morris-a-short-history/4/
http://www.artsandcraftsdesign.com/VoyseyPage2.html
http://www.artsandcraftsdesign.com/VoyseyPage2.html

By the 1880s and 90s, the movement had taken shape. Workshops, studios, and guilds, were being set up throughout Europe, and the movement was getting much attention across the Atlantic. (1)

THE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8HnwLDz4HA

Not only did the American Arts and Crafts Movement retaliate against industrialization, but the movement adopted many efforts to improve the situation of urban immigrants and the rural poor through craft. Much of the work done in the American Arts and Crafts movement was done by utopian and unprofitable art colonies and guilds such as the Saturday Evening Girls' Club, which gave the daughters of Italian and Jewish immigrants an alternative to factory employment and an opportunity to earn money while receiving artistic instruction. (2)

Here are some examples of the Saturday Evening Girls' Club's work:
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hi/axn_2000.htm
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hi/axn_2000.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37996580657@N01/130973439
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37996580657@N01/130973439
http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/sub.asp?key=15&subkey=3326
http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/sub.asp?key=15&subkey=3326


Other ways in which Americans brought the Arts and Crafts Movement to the people were by publishing journals and magazines that the average person could read and learn to furnish a home or plant a garden. One such journal was the Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman. Stickley recognized that a failure of the European Arts and Crafts Movement was the reliance on the patronage of wealthy individuals. They so much stressed that pieces should be made by hand that ordinary people could not afford to purchase them. Stickley's goal was "to promote and to extend the principles established by Morris, in both the artistic and the socialistic sense... to substitute the luxury of taste for the luxury of costliness; to teach that beauty does not imply elaboration or ornament' to employ only those forms and materials which make for simplicity, individuality and dignity of effect." Whereas many European leaders opposed the use of machinery, American manufacturers found it necessary to mechanize their processes and therefore make their products more available to the public. American arts and crafts were really hybrids made by hands and machines. So whether or not American craftsmen completely succeeded in retaliating against machinery and industry, they created and supplied a thriving market for affordable, artistically conceived goods. They thereby increased middle-class awareness of craft and design. (2) (3)


The Craftsman and some examples of Stickley's work
http://thetextileblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/gustav-stickleys-craftsman-magazine.html
http://thetextileblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/gustav-stickleys-craftsman-magazine.html
http://www.curatedobject.us/the_curated_object_/exhibitions_cooperstown/
http://www.curatedobject.us/the_curated_object_/exhibitions_cooperstown/
http://www.treadwaygallery.com/ONLINECATALOGS/MAY04/ACweb/0090.jpg
http://www.treadwaygallery.com/ONLINECATALOGS/MAY04/ACweb/0090.jpg


Other notable designers of the American Arts and Crafts movement were Charles and Henry Greene who set the architecture firm Greene and Greene. They designed wonderful arts and crafts houses and furnishings in California. (4)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GambleHouse-2005_edit1.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GambleHouse-2005_edit1.jpg
http://www.hammstudios.com/lighting/074.html
http://www.hammstudios.com/lighting/074.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppdGCcmU8ss

Another major part of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America were the utopian communities set up around the country dedicated to craftsmanship. The Roycroft community founded by Elbert Hubbard was one such community. They made furniture, metalwork, pottery, and more. (6)
http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/decorating/cabin-decor-ideas.htm/printable
http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/decorating/cabin-decor-ideas.htm/printable

Other communities like Byrdcliffe, Rose Valley, and Mountain Lakes featured clusters of Arts and Crafts bungalows. Grueby, Roodwood, and Teco were the most famous potters of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and Batchelder made tiles. After The Craftsman, all disciplines and medias were being taken over by the arts and crafts movement. There even was a reform in fashion. (1) (4)
external image index.php?id=816874&t=rhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj0W4Gx6GHM

However, by the end of the first world war, the Arts and Crafts Movement had fallen out of fashion. After the popularity of Stickley and Roycroft, other manufacturers began to copy and produce the designs cheaply until truly everyone in America could afford craftsman pieces. And by that time, the movement had lost its momentum. It is only recently that the Arts and Crafts Movement has been rediscovered and re-appreciated. (5)

LEGACY:

Frank Lloyd Write, although not directly associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, began designing when it was at its height. Many of the ideals of the movement can clearly be seen in his work, especially the idea that an objects structure should have everything to do with its function, and that there should be something organic about design. The architecture of the Twenties and Thirties reflect this as well. In general, the Arts and Crafts Movement profoundly affected architecture and design of the twentieth century. (4)

Also the fact that by the end of the Arts and Crafts Movement, factories were imitating all sorts of designs meant that lower and middle-class Americans could really choose their aesthetic and style for their homes. (4)

CONCLUSION:

The Arts and Crafts Movement, aimed at a return to craftsmanship and simplicity, took off in America in a way that it never managed to do so in Europe. Americans took William Morris's, Charles MacKintosh's, and John Ruskin's ideas about design and truly managed to take them to the people and bring art to those who previously had absolutely no exposure to anything but the inside of a factory. Americans were able to do this with philanthropic aspects of the movement like the Saturday Evening Girls' Club, magazines like The Craftsman, and acceptance of technology that the European movement had lacked.
http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.org/
http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.org/


WORKS CITED:


1. Kaplan, Wendy. The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe & America. Los Angeles: Thames & Hudson, 2004.

2. Bowman, Leslie Greene. American Arts & Crafts: Virtue in Design. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.

3. Kaplan, Wendy. "The Art that is Life": THe Ars & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1987.

4. Naylor, Gillian. The Arts and Crafts Movement: A study of its sources, ideals and influence on design theory. London: Trefoil Publications Ltd, 1990.

5. Clark, Robert Judson. The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1876-1916. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1972.

6.
LaChuisa, Chuck. "The Arts and Crafts Movement." Buffalo Niagra: American Masters. American Treasures. 29 May 2009 <http://www.wrightnowinbuffalo.com/whattodo/arts_crafts.asp>.