Sunday, February 4, 2007

Aesthetic Movement: US Craftsmen Movement

The Aesthetic Movement was a change from heavy, and very ornate style to simple with little to no ornamentation. The designers of this period appreciated hand craftsmanship and design for a purpose. It was hard for them to give in to machines making everything even though it was faster and less expensive. I know that anyone would prefer something hand crafted and carefully thought out but it was so expensive and time consuming. William Morris wanted to develop household objects that were thoroughly artistic but inexpensive at the same time. It seems like it would be hard to make something that was well designed and inexpensive by hand for "households" of that time. Would you want to pay more for something that was hand made or pay less for something that would look very similar but have flaws at the same time?That would be difficult to decide because I would obviously want the hand crafted well designed one but if that was not in my budget, I would not really have a choice.

Even Charles Eastlake published a book Hints on Household with household tips in it that manufactures tried to replicate furniture from that he suggested in his book. They referred all of the furniture to him which made him mad because the furniture did not turn out the way he had intended it to. He did say that good taste should not be expensive but was that possible during that time? Could the common person afford good taste?Do you think that he was being reasonable....


spees said...

I semi-agree with Eastlake when he says that good, well-crafted designs should not be expensive. I agree in the sense that I wish it wouldn't be expensive, but one can't get around the fact that it will be. I would love to have a very unique, simple designed chair from William Morris for an affordable price, but I also feel the need to pay the designer for the care and effort it took to make that piece of artwork. I know if I created a piece of artwork I would like appropriate compensation. Therefore, pieces from the Arts & Crafts movement can only be available to those who are in the market for quality, not neccessarily quanity.
Today it seems both are possible now that everyone can have cheap chic with places like Target creating new designs for the common man. With it's famous designers like Michael Graves and Issac Mizrahi, Target seems to be providing cool, unique designs for everyone. So in one way Eastlake got his wish, but on another, it's still not handcrafted it's just cool designs manufactured for the public much like the Victorian Era.

brittney said...

The Arts and Crafts Movement was indeed all about taste. The Victorian Era was also highly driven by ‘taste’ or the illusion of taste and obtaining it in any way, shape or form even if this meant sacrificing quality. The Arts and Crafts Movement resented this theory and considered something only to be in good taste if it was highly thought out and, most often, hand-crafted, making it quite difficult for the common man to obtain such goods. This was distinctly different from the Victorian Era, in which industries worked hard to make it possible for the common person to have the luxuries and other frivolous objects that the upper class enjoyed.

Industry was believed to have been the cause of tastelessness and poor quality in the decorative arts. Patrons of the Arts and Crafts Movement, such as William Morris and Charles Eastlake were reverting back to the notion that high quality only comes from highly skilled craftsmen and most certainly not from machines. Although in some instances this was true, this made it impossible for many to own and appreciate such goods.

Although this movement claimed that the beauty of it all was in the craftsmanship, it can also be argued, and probably is by most, that the beauty of the decorative arts is in ownership and in order to have and appreciate this, it must be available to the common man, to all of us.

Jennifer Litsey said...

I think that this movement was very much a good thing, before this the ornamentation was so heavy, you could barely pay attention to anything. I agree as well, that yes, it would be nice for everything to be of good quality being hand crafted, and well designed but as she said, it was entirely too expensive and took too long for the demands we hold today.

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