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ceramics history/ art education/good books

updated fri 31 may 96


Michael Henderson on mon 6 may 96

Morning all. Yesterday it DID NOT RAIN, the whole day, IT DID NOT RAIN,
some threatening clouds but NO WATER YES!!! Today it doesn't look so good,
but maybe... I digress. First, my MA is in American History. Some years
ago I got interested in the Arts and Crafts Movement in the US, basically
1980-1920. My husband collected the furniture of Gustav Stickley, and I
developed an interest in women's and children's work and how THE PRINCIPLES
of the MOVEMENT WERE TRANSMITTED (read art education). What the movement
was mostly about was the "democratization" of art and an emphasis on form
following function. Everday objects, functional in their purpose, were
perceived as objects of beauty and grace with the ability to enhance our
lives with their simple existance and everyman had the right to enjoy
objects of beauty in his/her home. Here again, the question (coming from
the English debate in the esthetic movement) about art/vs function was
showcased. Arts and Crafts folks came down heavily on the side of function.
What was essential was the quality of "hand-made" craftsmanship (this
movement was partly a response to the industrial revolution and the ornate
machine generated roccocco type stuff of the Victorians.) Well, the movement
ran through every "craft", from ceramic, to metal work (Dirk VanErp), glass
(Tiffany), wood (Chares and Sumner Greene, Roycrofters, Stickleys, etc),
leather craft etc. It was time when "we" as "potters, ceramic artists, clay
artists etc." were celebrated. Here are some names: George Ohr (the mad
potter of Biloxi), Adelaide Robineau, Mary Louise McLaughlin, Arthur Baggs,
et alia. The greatest teacher of the times? Probably Charles Binns at
Alfred U. But the Rheads, Batchelders etc. all knew each other,
communicated regularly with each other (I have some of their letters) and
worked with each other, mostly in summer institutes, and Chitauqua type
course offerings. Great potteries? Newcomb College (Tulane. U.),
Marblehead, Grueby, TECO, Fulper and dozens in Ohio. AS a potter, or
whatever name you choose for yourself, you will be ennobled to read of the
honor and reverence these practitioners of our art received. So, for
further reading: Jonathan A. Rawson, Jr. "Recent American Pottery" House
Beautiful 31(April 1912), pp. 148-49. Paul Evans, Art Pottery of the United
States Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974, "Pottery in America", American
Magazine of Art, 7(February 1916), pp. 133-135 Any of the Keramic Studio
and Studio magazines of the period, Ulysses G. Dietz, "The Newark Museum
Collection of American Art Pottery, Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., Peregrine Smith
Books, Salt Lake City 1984. AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE which I keep on my
(handmade 1911 (I think it was a piano bench), coffee table) : Wendy Kaplan
"The Art that is Life": The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920 A
New York Graphic Society Book Little, Brown and Company, Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston 1987 ISBN 0-87846-278-3(cloth) 0-87846-265-1(paper). Actually
I have Evans and the 1906 "Studio" Year Book on the coffee table to inspire
me too. Great "transmitters" of the movement? Henry Turner Baily (Bailey?)
of Scituate MA... first editor of The School Arts Magazine (His house in
Scituate is being (or has been), converted into a museum. I've been there,
unbelievable files.. he knew everbody) and Pedro Lemos of Oakland CA, print
maker and later curator of the Stanford Museum, second editor of The School
Arts. I've not been to the Cooper Hewlitt, maybe somebody can update us on
the collection there So, when you need a real boost, treat yourself to this
ego trip... by looking over some of these things. Maybe niot as good as a
trip to the "glory hole" at Alfred U. of to Newcomb College (I actually held
one of Leona Nicholson's tiles once.. 'twas my mothers and she sold it at
auction fo $400), but, on a grey day, it will do... Emily in Astoria where
its's not wet yet