International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright
Comprehensive Exhibition Organized by the V&A, London
on View at Only Two American Venues
18 March–18 June 2006
San Francisco -- More than 300 of the finest examples of the Arts and Crafts Movement dating from 1880–1928 will be on display in International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright. Organized by the V&A, London, this is the most comprehensive exhibition ever assembled on the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is also the first to look at it from a truly international perspective, tracing the development of the movement from its flourishing in Britain in the 1880s to its interpretation and development in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan.
The objects on view have been drawn from private and public collections all over the world with approximately a third of them coming from the V&A’s collections. They include textiles, stained glass, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, books, architecture, photography, paintings and sculpture. Altogether they serve to illustrate how Arts and Crafts became the first British design movement to have widespread and recognizable international influence.
Taking its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, founded in England in 1888, the Arts and Crafts Movement initially responded to Victorian mass-production and inappropriate ornamentation by celebrating the simpler forms of traditional decorative arts and reasserting the value of hand craftsmanship. Through its evolution and dissemination to wider Europe, America, and its reverberations in Japan, the Arts and Crafts Movement affected the decorative arts, interior design, and architecture
over several decades.
Highlights and Special Features of the Exhibition
A special feature of the exhibition is four specially created room sets emphasizing the importance of the Arts and Crafts home and interior. There will be two British sets -- one
urban and one rural -- one American ‘Craftsman’ room and one Japanese ‘model room’ dating from 1928 and recreated recently with rediscovered objects.
Other highlights include objects by influential British designers such as Voysey, Mackintosh, Ashbee, Morris, and Baillie Scott; a group of Russian objects that have not heretofore been exhibited in the Unites States; four-meters-wide stained glass doors by California designers Greene and Greene, as well as works by Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright; and Japanese objects by craftsmen of the Mingei (Folk Crafts) movement.
Arts and Crafts: Both a Movement and a Style
Arts and Crafts was both a movement and a style, a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and its machine dominated production. Inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris, the movement promoted the ideals of craftsmanship, individualism, and the integration of art into every day life. The movement challenged the hierarchy of the arts to raise the status of craftsmen, and it also advocated social reform through improved workshop conditions and a simpler way of life. The exhibition illustrates that while handicraft and the simple, country life was the ideal, the movement was also sophisticated, intellectual and urban, with a strong commercial basis and a desire to influence industrial design and manufacture.
International Arts and Crafts explores the influence of Arts and Crafts throughout the decorative arts across all spectrums of society from furniture made for country cottages to highly crafted silver, glass, textiles and fine art made for houses of the rich.
Promulgating new attitudes toward work, design, and the home, as well as the value placed on the way that things are made, the Arts and Crafts Movement laid the foundations internationally for new approaches to design and lifestyles in the twentieth century.
Each section of the exhibition, which is organized geographically, explores the distinctive characteristics of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the different ways in
which its ideas were interpreted as it developed in countries or regions from England to Japan. The movement emerged and flourished in Britain in the 1880s. It then spread to continental Europe and Scandinavia from 1880 to 1914, and to America from 1890 to
1916 before its final manifestation in the Mingei (Folk Crafts) movement in Japan between 1926 and 1945. In Scandinavia, Austria, Russia and Germany, the Arts and Crafts ideology led to a revival of nationalism as craftsmen returned to indigenous materials and native traditions. In America, the movement flourished in the mid-West, upstate New York, Boston, and California.
Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Bay Area
For California and the West, the earliest examples of the Arts and Crafts Movement were created in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the Swedenborgian Church in Pacific Heights was one of the earliest projects realized by a group of artists, architects, and designers in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts ideals. In 1894 and 1895, artists William Keith and May Curtis Robinson, and architects A. Page Brown, Albert C. Schweinfurth, and Bernard Maybeck collaborated on this church under the inspiration of the Reverend Joseph Worcester. Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957), who started as a draftsman on this project, subsequently created over 40 private residences and several public landmarks in the area, some in his singular Gothic style featuring massive carved timbers. His First Church of Christ Scientist, Berkeley, (1910) with its freely inventive design is his masterwork in the Arts and Crafts style.
The Craftsman bungalow was popular all over the West in the period from 1900 through1920 and came to represent the California lifestyle. These houses built of simple redwood construction are found in many parts of the Bay Area, particularly in the Berkeley Hills. The most elaborate variations are included in the work of the architects Charles and Henry Greene (1868-1957 and 1870-1954).They created the ultimate Arts and Crafts houses, designing every aspect of both the interior and the exterior, from the furniture and textiles to the lighting fixtures. Using the most expensive materials, each detail is beautifully finished to the highest degree of design and craftsmanship. Although
their practice was based in Pasadena, they also worked in the Bay Area; their Green
Gables estate in Woodside and Thorson House in Berkeley are two of their most important projects.
Of all the artist craftsmen working in the Bay Area, the metalworker Dirk van Erp (1860-1933) is the most famous. His hand-hammered copper and mica lamps have
become synonymous with the whole Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States. The paintings and decorative work of the artists Lucia and Arthur Mathews (1875-1945 and 1860–1945) evoked California and its landscape. The Mathews’s picture frames, lamps, and painted furniture, sold in the their Furniture Shop from 1906-1920, were often painted in bright colors with Californian trees, poppies and Arcadian scenes. Pottery, often seen as the most typical product of the Arts and Crafts Movement, was made in the Bay Area at the Arequipa Pottery. Under the direction of the English-born ceramicist Frederick Hürten Rhead (1880-1942), this pottery was located in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Marin County town of Fairfax, where it’s making was offered as an occupation to its women patients. As with the Mathews’s work, Arequipa pottery is characterized by decorative motifs often influenced by the natural beauty of California in the form of landscape, trees, and flowers. The factory’s signature style resembles the mosaic effects of stained glass. Examples of the work of some of these artists, craftsmen, architects, and designers can be found on view in the permanent American art collections of the new de Young museum.
Credit and Organization
International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright is organized by
the V&A, London.
The presentation in San Francisco is generously supported by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums.
V&A, London, 17 March-24 July 2005
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, 27 September 2005-22 January 2006
de Young, San Francisco, 18 March-18 June 2006
There is a $5 surcharge for International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright. Prices are $15 adults; $12 seniors; $11 youths ages 13-17; and children ages 12 and under are free. Timed and dated tickets may be purchased in advance online at www.famsf.org, or by calling 1-866-912-6326, or at the de Young’s self-service kiosks. Tickets are also available at the door.
International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue titled International Arts and Crafts, published by the V&A, London. Available in the museum stores. Paperbound $39.95; hardcover $75.
About the new de Young
Founded in 1895 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the de Young museum has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the city and a cherished destination for millions of residents and visitors to the region for over 100 years. On 15 October 2005, the de
Young museum re-opened in a new facility designed by the Swiss architecture firm
Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco. The new de Young provides San Francisco with a landmark art museum to showcase the museum’s significant collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, modern and contemporary art, art from Central and South America, the Pacific and Africa, as well as an important and diverse collection of textiles.
Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Friday: Open until 8:45 p.m. Admission Fees: Adults $10, Seniors $7, Youths 13-17 and college students with ID $6, Children 12 and under FREE; First Tuesday of Each Month FREE; MUNI visitor discount with fast pass or transfer $2.