Arts and crafts movement

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ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT. Started in England in the late nineteenth century, the Arts and Crafts movement affected nearly every aspect of household design, from architecture to pottery, and continues to do so. The movement was a response to the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution and the excesses of the Victorian Age, during which the middle classes collected frilly, mass-produced knickknacks. Arts and Crafts embraced simplicity of line, good, durable materials, and the human touch. Proponents were divided over the use of machines for production.

The English poet and artist William Morris, widely considered the movement's founder, articulated its philosophy, stressing the importance of the dignity and humanity of the work of craftsmen: "every thing made by

man's hands has a form, which must be either beautiful or ugly; beautiful if it is in accord with Nature, and helps her; ugly if it is discordant with Nature, and thwarts her." In America, the movement spawned a number of organizations and guilds dedicated to its ideals. In 1895, a group of artisans established "Roy croft" ("King's Craft"), in East Aurora, N.Y., a community (which is again functioning) whose mission was to evoke images of medieval craftsmanship. Other guilds included the Society of Arts and Crafts of Boston and the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society, both founded in 1897. Guild members represented almost all aspects of design, including architecture, furniture, gardens, textiles, stained glass, pottery and cast iron.

In architecture, the first major innovations appeared in Chicago and the Midwest, where Frank Lloyd Wright designed Prairie Style homes, which used horizontal lines to follow the landscape. The bungalow, a later architectural development, began in southern California; and it brought the concepts of the Prairie Style to small, middle-class homes. Built largely in the early twentieth century, bungalow houses incorporated Prairie Style features such as exposed joinery and low-hanging eaves.

Gustav Stickley led the way in furniture design. To this day, the factory he founded in upstate New York turns out Mission Style furniture, which uses strong, simple woods such as oak and clean, geometric lines with exposed joinery.

The leaders in Arts and Crafts pottery included Henry Chapman Mercer, whose Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, founded in the 1890s, used local clay and hand craftsmanship to make mosaic and story tiles. Artus van Briggle invented a matte glaze that resembled ancient Chinese pottery. His designs are still reproduced at his factory in Colorado.


London, Neil, and Chris Wheeler. The Arts and Crafts Legacy. Home and Garden Television, 2001.

Morris, William. Hopes and Fears for Art. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1882.

Stansky, Peter. Redesigning the World: William Morris, the 1880s, and the Arts and Crafts. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Rebekah PressonMosby

See alsoArchitecture ; Furniture .

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Arts and Crafts Movement Late 19th- and early 20th-century British movement, led by artists who wanted to revitalize the decorative arts by returning to the ideals of medieval craftsmanship. Inspired by William Morris, the movement contributed to European art nouveau, but was eventually transformed by the acceptance of modern industrial methods.

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Arts and Crafts Movement an English decorative arts movement of the second half of the 19th century which sought to revive the ideal of craftsmanship in an age of increasing mechanization and mass production. William Morris was its most prominent member.