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The Arts and Crafts Movement
By Neal McLaughlin

From the first chiseled marble sculpture to the first canvas painting art has been a celebration of mans' ability to express his world through tedious craftsmanship and vivid design.

Art was not merely a pastime or hobby, it was and continues to be the depiction of deep emotions flowing from the soul of a highly sensitive being as they set out to portray their surroundings.

For centuries, art had been segregated. It fell into two categories and sub groups: Major/Minor, Fine and Applied Arts. This method of categorizing was truly sad as it definitely deprived the art world of many opportunities for growth and the enjoyment of art as a collective of all creations.

However, fortunate for us, there are those who strive for change. People who recognize that without change the world would be doomed to stagnation. The artists of the Art Nouveau movement despised the wall of separation and set out to desegregate art once and for all. It is safe to venture that these highly charged, intelligent artists were successful in their endeavor

Had it not been for the determined William Morris (1834-1896) the change in views of artists and critics alike may had been longer forthcoming. For it was his Arts and Crafts movement which spawned the Art Nouveau movement that continued to fight against the wall of separation after the Arts and Crafts Movement began to fade.

Following the French Revolution, individual craftsmanship and design had begun to ebb from the art scene. Then came the Industrial Revolution which paved the way for the mass production of "shoddy" art related items.

The idea of using machines to produce art related artifacts actually appealed to some artisans as it made their items readily available for consumer purchase, despite the fact that they would lack individuality and personal design, which had been the signature of pre-Industrial Revolution art.

In 1861, English designer William Morris, founder of Morris, Marshall and Faulkner, had decided that it was time to initiate change and to lodge protest against what he and his peers considered the "sterility and ugliness" of machine made products.

He and his fellow artisans, to include Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928),

Cabinetmaker Ernest Gimson (1863-1919) and potter William De Morgan (1839-1917), strongly believed that they needed to reaffirm the importance of individual craftsmanship and design. Thus, in the late 19th century, William Morris, designer, textile and stain glassmaker implemented and spearheaded the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The Arts and Crafts Movement, although predominately an English venture did take roots in Scotland (Mackintosh), Vienna and the United States, where it had lead to the establishment of crafts workshops which in turn had influenced architecture, furniture, clothing and other art related objects.

The Arts and Crafts Movement, although referring to a loosely-linked group of artisans, craftsman, designers and architects had influenced a substantial number of believers in the movement that it led to the creation of organizations that would promote Arts and Crafts through exhibition societies and artists guilds.

The earliest Arts and Crafts promoting guild on record was the Century Guild, which had been the brainstorm of A.H. Mack. Selwyn Image and H.P. Horn. Although instrumental in the promotion of the artisans works, the Art Workers Guild, founded in 1884, and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society founded in 1888 were perhaps two of the most influential of artists guilds.

The Arts and Crafts Movement although positively depicted by these guilds was not without it's critics. While The Studio magazine was a strong and spirited supporter of the movement the Magazines of Art criticized an early showing stating that "over all there hovers an air of galvanized medievalism; the tendency is rather to resuscitate or imitate rather than originate".

Regardless of this criticism, William Morris and his band of artisan brothers continued to march forward with boldness and a firm belief that individual craftsmanship and design is the foundation of good art. Morris's relentless push for change would eventually be successful. As a forerunner of the Art Nouveau Movement, the Arts and Crafts Movement would become a dominant source of 20th Century Modernism.

Today we can see how the Arts and Crafts Movement succumbed to the pressures of the Industrial Revolution and the mass production of the " I need it today" syndrome. However, there are still those artisans who strive to incorporate their individual craftsmanship and design into their artistic productions.

Yes, it is true that we may be asked to pay a little more for their creations, however, we can expect that the heart and soul of a true craftsman is included in their final product.


Research Links

Founders Of The Arts & Crafts Movement
Founders Of The Arts & Crafts Movement 1870 - 1900. ... The Arts & Crafts Society. A Brief Overview of the Early Arts & Crafts Movement in America.

The Arts & Crafts Society
... In the spirit of the societies created during the early 20th century in response to the Arts & Crafts Movement, this site has been created to provide an online .

Arts and Crafts Movement
... Discover people, places & things unique to the Arts & Crafts Movement. Directory, Locate companies and artisans to help you remodel your home.

Arts and Crafts Movement
Arts and Crafts Movement. The Arts and Crafts Movement refers to the loosely-linked group of craftsmen, artists, designers and architects

The Arts and Crafts Movement: Artists and their Works
Artcyclopedia Artists by Movement: The Arts and Crafts Movement. Britain, Late 19th Century. The Arts and Crafts Movement was a celebration

On-Line Arts & Crafts Movement Resource Directory
On-Line Arts & Crafts Movement Resource Directory. Dedicated to the ... On-Line Arts & Crafts Movement Resource Directory. Yellow Pages directory .

San Francisco Bay Area Arts & Crafts Movement Home Page
This site dedicated to the Arts & Crafts Movement architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area. Featuring photos and biographies of

The Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts Movement. The Arts and Crafts movement initially developed in England during the latter half of the 19th century.

Yahoo! Directory Art History > Arts and Crafts Movement
Yahoo! reviewed these sites and found them related to Art History > Arts and Crafts Movement. ... Art History > Arts and Crafts Movement. .

Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Arts & Crafts Collection
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum has a nationally-important collection on the Arts & Crafts Movement in Britain, which includes furniture, pottery, silver

Morse Museum [Arts & Crafts Movement]
... Morris was a leader of the Arts and Crafts movement, which originated in Britain in the late 19th century and soon spread to America.This group of reformers .

William Morris Society: Arts and Crafts Links
ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT LINKS. Arts and Crafts in general Craftsman ... Library of Congress. Arts & Crafts Movement Web Site. A new website


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