Arts and Crafts Zac


Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

The new self portrait shows Zac looking rather bohemian and casual, in a weird Nineteenth Century manner.
Like many artists and designers who espoused the Arts and Crafts movement, he is trying to look like a 'regular (working class) guy', while still enjoying all the privileges and advantages that accrued to the tiny percentage of individuals who were extraordinarily wealthy and/or privileged at the time.
Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Klimp and many other 'progressive' artists of the time, Zac displays his ideological leanings in his dress.
And not only dress.
These individuals were wealthy and privileged enough to live in homes (in the most select areas) that echoed their philosophies of design.
They were, superficially at least, committed to the working man (for example, William Morris thought of himself as a socialist), and yet most of their designs, and art works, were within the reach of only the wealthiest members of society.
Whereas Art Deco and Moderne were undoubtedly styles for 'Everyman', Arts and Crafts was a philosophy and style which was only really for the truly wealthy.
Now, of course, you can find inexpensive examples (not very good ones, it must be admitted) in your local thrift (charity) shop - but this is simply because much 'so-called' Arts and Crafts design is not only unattractive - it is also inappropriate for the function for which it was designed.
After all, it is well known that the main complaint against the chairs of both Mackintosh and Lloyd Wright was that they were very uncomfortable !

The Arts and Crafts movement was an international movement in the decorative and fine arts that appeared in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910.
The artistic and social influences of the Arts and Crafts movement were strongly felt in Europe, until it was displaced by Art Deco, and later, Modernism, although the style continued among some craft makers, designers, town planners and others long afterwards well into the Twentieth Century.
The movement developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles, and spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and North America.
It was largely a reaction against the perceived impoverished state of the decorative arts at the time, (?) and the conditions in which they were produced.
It stood for supposedly 'traditional' craftsmanship, using simple forms, and often applied medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration.


Typical Arts and Crafts Sideboard


It advocated economic and social reform, and was essentially anti-industrial and backward looking, in contrast to Art Deco, which superseded it..


William Morris

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.
One of the founders and leaders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production.
His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Edward Burne-Jones
Born in Walthamstow, Essex to a wealthy middle-class family, Morris came under the strong influence of medievalism while studying Classics at Oxford University, there joining the Birmingham Set.
After university he trained as an architect, married Jane Burden, and developed close friendships with the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and with the Neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb.
Webb and Morris designed a family home, 'Red House in Kent', where the latter lived from 1859 to 1865, before relocating to Bloomsbury, central London.



William Morris - The Red House

In 1861, Morris founded a decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others: the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
Becoming highly fashionable and much in demand, the firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows.
In 1875, Morris assumed total control of the company, which was renamed Morris & Co.


Kelmscott Manor
where Morris produced some of his most profitable designs

The problem with much of the Arts and Crafts produced by Morris and his followers was that it was simply a variation on the all pervasive Victorian Gothic Revival style (Neo-Gothic) - (the involvement of Rosetti and Burne-Jones makes this very clear - both were lost in a romantic, medieval dream-world).


Morris - Four Poster Bed - Kelmscott Manor
this bed - and anachronism in itself - shows the strong Gothic Revival motifs that pervaded most of the work of the English Arts and Crafts movement.


The only real difference, therefore, between Gothic Revival and 'Arts and Crafts' was that, whereas Gothic Revival designers were quite content to design mass produced 'Gothic' items, the 'Arts and Crafts' insisted on 'hand crafted', 'traditionally' produced items.
This, however, ran strangely counter to the egalitarian and 'socialist' idals which many of the 'Arts and Crafts' designers espoused, as 'hand-crafted' items were inevitably extremely expensive, and only available to a very small elite of wealthy, 'aesthetic', patrons.
As such, 'Arts and Crafts' by-passed most working class people, who had to be content with (often historically inspired) cheap, mass produced items. 


CONTINENTAL DEVELOPMENTS


Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
On the continent - and particularly in Germany and Austria - artists and designers were not influenced to the same degree by the revival of the Gothic style (which had come to dominate England).
With similar views regarding 'craftsmanship and good design, however, in 1903 the Wiener Werkstätte was established.



Palais Stoclet - Hoffman
Sculpture - Wienner Werkstaette 

It was a production community of visual artists in Vienna, Austria bringing together architects, artists and designers.
In architectural commissions such as the Purkersdorf Sanatorium and the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, the Wiener Werkstätte was able to realize its ideal of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' (total artwork - shades of Richard Wagner), a coordinated environment in which everything down to the last detail was consciously designed as an integral part of the whole project.


Palais Stoclet - Hoffman
Dining Room - Wienner Werkstaette 



Palais Stoclet - Hoffman
Interior - Wienner Werkstaette 

Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann
Hoffmann was born in Brtnice, Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic). He studied at the Higher State Crafts School in Brno (Brünn) beginning in 1887 and then worked with the local military planning authority in Würzburg. Thereafter he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna with Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer and Otto Wagner, graduating with a Prix de Rome in 1895. In Wagner's office, he met Joseph Maria Olbrich, and together they founded the Vienna Secession in 1897 along with artists Gustav Klimt, and Koloman Moser. Beginning in 1899, he taught at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. With the Secession, Hoffmann developed strong connections with other artists. He designed installation spaces for Secession exhibitions and a house for Moser which was built from 1901-1903. However, he soon left the Secession in 1905 along with other stylist artists due to conflicts with realist naturalists over differences in artistic vision and disagreement over the premise of Gesamtkunstwerk. With the banker Fritz Wärndorfer and the artist Koloman Moser he established the Wiener Werkstätte, which was to last until 1932.Through contacts with Adolphe Stoclet, who sat on the supervisory board of the Austro-Belgischen Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, he was commissioned to build the Palais Stoclet in Brussels from 1905 to 1911 for this wealthy banker and railway financier. This masterpiece was an example of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk'.

Attempts to expand the workshop's scope - adding such items as wallpaper to its limited program of industrial licenses, and establishing branches in Berlin, New York and Zurich - were not particularly successful.
The Werkstätte's financial situation grew desperate due to the effects of the war, and the onset of the world wide Depression in 1929.
The implementation of the 'Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service' on April 7, 1933 and the 'Nuremberg Laws' implemented on September 15, 1938 effectively established Jews as enemies of the Reich, thus making any commerce by Aryan Germans with a Jewish person a crime. The criminality of commerce had a devastating effect on sales at the Wiener Werkstätte because of the fact that a very large number of the faculty were of Jews.



Palais Stoclet - Hoffman
Light Fitting - Wienner Werkstaette 
Arts and Crafts - or - Art Deco ?

The real problem, however, that the Wiener Werkstätte faced was the simple fact that it's rather naive, and anti-capitalist stance, (echoing the Socialism of William Morris), had made its aesthetic anachronistic in a society that was espousing 'Moderne' (Art Deco), and a new form of 'Contemporary Classicism'.

Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
Similar to the Wiener Werkstätte was the German 'Deutscher Werkbund', which was  an association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists.
The Werkbund was to become an important event in the development of modern architecture and industrial design, particularly in the later creation of the Bauhaus school of design.
Its initial purpose was to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets.
The Werkbund was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate 'traditional' crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to put Germany on a competitive footing with England and the United States.

Peter Behrens
Joseph Maria Olbrich
The Deutscher Werkbund emerged when the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich left Vienna for Darmstadt, Germany, in 1899, to form an artists’ colony at the invitation of Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse.
The Werkbund was founded by Olbrich, Peter Behrens, Richard Riemerschmid, Bruno Paul and others in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius, existed through until 1934.
Muthesius was the author of the exhaustive three-volume "The English House" of 1905, a survey of the practical lessons of the English 'Arts and Crafts' movement.
Muthesius was seen as something of a cultural ambassador, or industrial spy, between Germany and England.

Heinrich Tessenow
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe
The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms.
The architects include Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann, Bruno Paul, and Richard Riemerschmid.
Other architects affiliated with the project include Heinrich Tessenow (associated with Albert Speer).
Among the Werkbund's more noted members was the architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, who served as Architectural Director.






Festspielhaus Hellerau - Dresden
Heinrich Tessenow 



DEVELOPMENTS IN AMERICA



Frank Lincoln (Lloyd) Wright
'The Messiah of Arts and Crafts'

Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright, June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 532.
Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.
This philosophy was best exemplified by 'Fallingwater' (1935).
Wright was a leader of the 'Prairie School' movement of architecture, and developed the concept of the Usonian home, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States.
His work includes original and innovative examples of many building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums.
Wright also designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass.
Wright wrote 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe.
His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio.
LLoyd Wright's 'so-called' Prairie houses use themed, coordinated design elements (often based on plant forms) that are repeated in windows, carpets and other fittings.
He made innovative (although not always wise) use of new building materials, such as precast concrete blocks, glass bricks and zinc, (instead of the traditional lead), for his lead-light windows, and he famously used Pyrex glass tubing as a major element in the Johnson Wax Headquarters.
Wright was also one of the first architects to design and install custom-made electric light fittings, including some of the very first electric floor lamps, and his very early use of the then-novel spherical glass lampshade (a design previously not possible due to the physical restrictions of gas lighting).
As Wright's career progressed, so did the mechanization of the glass industry.
Wright fully embraced glass in his designs and found that it fit well into his philosophy of organic architecture.
Wright responded to the transformation of domestic life that occurred at the turn of the 20th century, when servants became less prominent or completely absent from most American households, by developing homes with progressively more open plans.
This allowed the woman of the house to work in her 'work-space', as he often called the kitchen, yet keep track of and be available for the children and/or guests in the dining room. 
Wright also designed some of his own clothing.
His fashion sense was unique, and he usually wore expensive suits, flowing neckties, and capes. Wright drove a custom yellow 'race-about' in the Prairie years, a red Cord convertible in the 1930s, and a famously customized 1940 Lincoln for many years. 
Wright strongly believed in individualism, and did not affiliate with the American Institute of Architects during his career, going so far as to call the organization "a harbor of refuge for the incompetent," and "a form of refined gangster-ism."
When an associate referred to him as "an old amateur" Wright confirmed, "I am the oldest." - so at least he understood his true status.


more images and information to follow