Arts and Crafts

arts and crafts, term for that general field of applied design in which hand fabrication is dominant. The term was coined in England in the late 19th cent. as a label for the then-current movement directed toward the revivifying of the decorative arts. The chief influence behind this movement was William Morris. By the mid-19th cent., factory processes had almost entirely driven artisans from their ancient trades and threatened to obliterate the techniques they used to produce beautiful objects of utility. The Gothic revival, however, had brought into existence a great body of knowledge concerning the arts of the Middle Ages, and Morris, together with the Pre-Raphaelite painters and a small group of architects and designers, returned to these arts as a rich source of inspiration.

The pupils and followers of Morris multiplied, and proficient artisans developed. Their methods aimed at a practical demonstration not only of Morris's aesthetic creed but also of his ideas concerning socialism and the moral need for integrating beauty with the accessories of daily life. The aesthetic and political aspects of the arts and crafts movement influenced the development of modernism, particularly as they were later reflected in the core philosophy of the Bauhaus. The revival of folk arts has continued to prosper in some quarters, especially in remote communities and among Native Americans of the Southwest and the Eskimos (see North American Native Art).

A less aestheticized version of the arts and crafts movement was important in the United States, where it spread from England and flourished from the late 19th cent. to about 1915. It was prominent in American architecture and design, notably in the buildings and interiors of Greene and Greene and in the "mission-style" oak furniture of Gustav Stickley (1858–1942) and his contemporaries. The movement's precepts were also applied to ceramics, glassware, utensils, and other objects of American daily life. The arts and crafts movement also spread to continental Europe, where it was quite influential during the late 19th and early 20th cent.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Arts and Crafts: Selected full-text books and articles

Design Culture in Liverpool, 1880-1914: The Origins of the Liverpool School of Architecture By Christopher Crouch Liverpool University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. One "The Styling and Ideology of the Arts and Crafts in Liverpool"
Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity By Anthony D. King Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Imperialism, Colonialism, and Architects of the Arts and Crafts of Britain"
William Morris: Centenary Essays : Papers from the Morris Centenary Conference Organized by the William Morris Society at Exeter College Oxford, 30 June-3 July 1996 By Peter Faulkner; Peter Preston University of Exeter Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "'Every Artist Would Be a Workman, and Every Workman an Artist': Morrisian and Arts and Crafts Ideas and Ideals at the Ontario Educational Association, 1900-1920" and Chap. 13 "The Dilemma of Place: Arts and Crafts Architecture in the Antipodes"
The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground By Michael T. Saler Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Morris, the Machine and Modernism, 1915-1934"
Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education By Elliot W. Eisner; Michael D. Day Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Arts and Crafts" begins on p. 43
Graphic Style: From Victorian to Digital By Steven Heller; Seymour Chwast Harry N. Abrams, 2000 (New edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Arts and Crafts" begins on p. 31
Art Nouveau By Robert Schmutzler Harry N. Abrams, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Arts and Crafts" begins on p. 104
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