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The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World
On view from October 16, 2005 through January 8, 2006 at the Cleveland Museum of Art


Designed by Miksa Roth (Hungarian, 1865-1944)
Made at Roth's studio, Budapest
Mosaic, Rising Sun, 1900
67-3/4 x 30 x 1-9/16 in. (172.1 x 76.5 x 4 cm)
Roth Miksa Museum
Photo © Roth Miksa Emlekház
The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) welcomes the landmark exhibition The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World, on view Oct. 16, 2005, to Jan. 8, 2006. This groundbreaking exhibition, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), is the first to demonstrate the significance of the widespread international Arts and Crafts movement of Europe and the United States.

Including more than 300 influential objects created in all media between 1880 and 1920, from ceramic and metalwork to textiles and works on paper, this exhibition demonstrates the evolution of the object and the way that the object affected one’s life during this period of time, advancing the dawn of the modern age.

The Arts and Crafts movement began as a reaction to social and economic anxiety after nearly a century of intense industrial modernization. Great Britain, the most industrialized country at the turn of the century, became the initial hub of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society was founded in 1887 in London on the belief that a culture’s applied art was as vital to that culture as its fine art. Individuality in a crafter’s piece, along with innovation and creativity, molded the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society into a significant artistic movement that later grew into one of a philosophical, political and cultural nature.

Members of the society, including John Ruskin and William Morris, advocated the improvement of working conditions, the reintegration of art into everyday life and the unification of all forms of art. The movement’s principles were widely spread by the start of the twentieth century and had developed into a language of democratic phrases including “joy in labor,” “unity in design,” and “fidelity to place.” These potent phrases allowed the public to visualize the Arts and Crafts movement’s many ideologies.

Frederick Hurten Rhead (American, b. England, 1880-1942)
Made at Rhead Pottery, Santa Barbara, California
Vase, 1913-17
Height: 11-1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Friends of the American Wing Fund, 1996 (1996.371)
Photo © 1997 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“This exhibition looks at how the philosophies of the Arts and Crafts movement spread across Europe and to the United States influencing not only the way objects were made, but how they looked and were used,” CMA Curator of Decorative Arts and Design Stephen Harrison said. “This landmark exhibition is the first to examine how widespread the Arts and Crafts movement became as designers and consumers alike embraced its ideals,” Harrison added. The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World will include objects made in England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France, and the United States.

Seventy-five institutions and private collections have lent exceptional objects, including many masterworks by key designers of the period, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s (American, 1867–1959) Table Lamp from the Susan Lawrence Dana House (pictured below) and a chair from his studio in Oak Park, Illinois; views of Greene and Greene’s (American) Robert R. Blacker House, along with an armchair and cabinet from the house; William Morris’s (British, 1834–1896) textile Rose; Josef Hoffmann’s (Austrian, 1870–1956) Tea Service (pictured below); along with works by M. H. Baillie Scott (British, 1865–1945), Henry Van de Velde (Belgian, 1863–1959), Peter Behrens (German, 1868–1940), Eliel Saarinen (Finnish, 1873–1950) and Gustav Stickley (American, 1858–1942).

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959)
Made by Linden Glass Co., Chicago, Illinois
Table Lamp, from the Susan Lawrence Dana House, Springfield, Illinois, 1902-4
Leaded glass, bronze, brass, and zinc
Base:  20-1/2 x 12 x 8-7/8 in. (52 x 30.5 x 22.5 cm); shade diameter: 29 in. (73.7 cm)
LACMA, gift of Max Palevsky
© Frank Lloyd Wright / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.  
Photo © 2004 Museum Associates / LACMA
Made by Wiener Werkstaette, Vienna
Tea Service, 1903-4
Hammered silver, amethyst, carnelian, and ebony
Serving tray: 36 x 20 in. (91.4 x 50.8 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2000 (2000.278.1-9)
Photo © 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

All of the objects in the exhibition are explored through the three reoccurring themes of the time, Art and Industry, Design and National Identity, and Arts and Life.

Made by Newcomb College Pottery, New Orleans, Louisiana
Decorated by Mazie Teresa Ryan (American, 1880-1946); thrown by Joseph Fortune Meyer (American, b. Alsace-Lorraine, 1848-1931)
Vase, 1906
Height:  12-7/8 in. (32.7 cm); diameter: 8-1/8 in. (20.6 cm)
LACMA, gift of Max Palevsky
Photo © 2004 Museum Associates / LACMA
Art and Industry

Though the Arts and Crafts movement regarded its pre-industrial past in the highest respect, it did not completely discard the present. The movement had a few conflicting ideals, including a belief that machines should be used as a way to rid workers of mindless tasks rather than for mass production, and the idea that objects should be useful to as well as being affordable for the average person. Even though the movement struggled with these two opposing views, what was most important to the movement was the ‘process of making’ an object.

Design and the National Identity

The Arts and Crafts Movement believed that a country’s character could be expressed through design and reinforced by that design. Designers, craftsmen and artists used this technique in their fields. This became a new form of patriotism, known today as Romantic Nationalism.

Art and Life

Designed by William De Morgan (English, 1839-1917)
Made at the workshop of William De Morgan, London or Merton Abbey
Tile Panel, c. 1885
Lustered earthenware
34-3/4 x 26-3/8 x 3 in. (88.3 x 67 x 7.6 cm)
LACMA, gift of Max Palevsky and purchased with funds provided by the George Sidney Trust
Photo © 2004 Museum Associates / LACMA
One of the most important and fundamental concepts of the Arts and Crafts movement was the idea of the complete integration of art and everyday life. This was done most thoroughly through utopian art colonies around the globe. Four of these art colonies have been included in this exhibition, including Darmstadt, Germany; C. R. Ashbee’s Guild of the Handicraft in Britain; Gödöllo, Hungary; and the Roycrofters of East Aurora, New York.
These three themes envelop several issues still debated today, including individuality versus standardization of objects and the definition of a design that most benefits society.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was made possible by Max Palevsky. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Programs (PDF)

Photos © Photo © Róth Miksa Emlékház/The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Museum Associates / LACMA

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