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Arts and Crafts Style


The Arts and Crafts Movement

Grueby Faience Company
Arts and Crafts Style
By Motawi 

Arts and Crafts Style Clock
By Schlabaugh 

The Arts and Crafts movement was an aesthetic design movement occurring in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century.  The movement began in Britain and quicky became an American style.

The Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin.  The main theme was the romantic idealization of the craftsman taking pride in his personal handiwork. The movement was at its height between approximately 1880 and 1910.

The Arts and Crafts Movement began primarily as a search for an authentic and meaningful design. The movement was also a reaction to the eclectic revival of historic styles of the Victorian era, Gothic, Greek and Roman revival styles. The Industrial Revolution, with its flood of machine made and "soulless" production was in direct contrast to the careful handmade quality and pride of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Considering the modern machine to be the root cause of all repetitive and mundane evils, many artisans turned entirely away from the use of machines and towards handicraft, which tended to concentrate their products in the hands of sensitive but well-heeled patrons.

While the Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to industrialization, it was neither anti-industrial nor anti-modern.  Many sought a compromise between the efficiency of the machine and the skill of the craftsman.  Arts and Crafts Movement sought to find the balance so that humans would not become slaves to the industrial machine.

In the United States, the terms American Craftsman, or Craftsman style are often used to denote the style of architecture, interior design, and decorative arts that prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, or roughly the period from 1910 to 1925.

In the United States, the Arts and Crafts Movement took on a distinctively more bourgeois flavor. While the European movement tried to recreate the virtuous world of craft labor that was being destroyed by industrialization, Americans tried to establish a new source of virtue to replace heroic craft production: the tasteful middle-class home. They thought that the simple but refined aesthetics of Arts and Crafts decorative arts would enable the new experience of industrial consumerism, making individuals more rational and society more harmonious. In short, the American Arts and Crafts Movement was the aesthetic counterpart of its contemporary political movement: Progressivism.

The Arts and Crafts Movement spawned a wide variety of attempts to reinterpret European Arts and Crafts ideals for Americans. These included the "Craftsman"-style architecture, furniture, and other decorative arts such as the designs promoted by Gustav Stickley in his magazine, The Craftsman.

A host of imitators of Stickley's furniture (the designs of which are often mislabeled the "Mission Style") included three companies formed by his brothers, the Roycroft community founded by Elbert Hubbard, the "Prairie School" of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Country Day School movement, the bungalow style of houses popularized by Greene and Greene, utopian communities like Byrdcliffe and Rose Valley, and the contemporary studio craft movement.

Studio pottery — exemplified by Grueby, Newcomb, Teco, Overbeck and Rookwood pottery, Bernard Leach in Britain, and Mary Chase Perry Stratton's Pewabic Pottery in Detroit — as well as the art tiles by Ernest A. Batchelder in Pasadena, California, and idiosyncratic furniture of Charles Rohlfs also demonstrate the clear influence of Arts and Crafts Movement. Mission, Prairie, and the California Craftsman styles of homebuilding remain tremendously popular in the United States today.