United Kingdom

United Kingdom
21 records
“Art is the expression of man’s pleasure in labour” declared William Morris (1834–1896), the leading figure of what came to be known as the Arts and Crafts movement. He and other British design reformers rebelled against the Industrial Revolution, which they believed had exploited workers, blighted the countryside, and produced poorly made goods. These evils could be overcome by a return to “the simple life”—a utopian vision of a harmonious, bucolic environment where the craftsperson controlled the creative process from design through execution.

Britain, at the very epicenter of the Industrial Revolution, was also the center for designers most opposed to the dehumanizing consequences of factory production. But the majority of Arts and Crafts sympathizers did not reject the machine: they opposed mechanical processes that diminished or replaced human creativity. Most sought a new alliance with industry and alternative, not oppositional, modes of production—the simple life remained an ideal seldom realized. Above all, they wanted a new unity—in which applied and fine arts would be valued equally—and in 1887 they created the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which gave the movement its name. For the first twenty years of its existence, the society displayed at these exhibitions a broad range of work—from one-of-a-kind to mass-produced, in all media. The great diversity of British precedent provided Europe and the United States with a visual as well as a verbal vocabulary.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)

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