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tradition, craft, art

updated mon 9 feb 04


Vince Pitelka on sun 8 feb 04

I said:
> >Any art historian who says that the crafts are not art is just showing
> >his/her lack of savvy...

Snail said:
> Craft is NOT art. They are different. They overlap,
> (a lot!) but are not synonymous concepts.

Snail -
I know that you knew exactly what I meant, but I should have been more
careful in my terminology, and it is always good to clarify this. I should
have said "fine craft." To exclude fine craft from the category of art is
of course ridiculous. I was talking about blanket exclusions by art
historians, which unfortunately happens all too frequently.

I don't think that the issue of technique needs to have anything at all to
do with the connectedness of fine craft and fine art. Both are indigenous
art expressions of their time and place. It is true that art historians
generally know little about "material culture" and thus don't relate well to
craft, but their ignorance is no excuse for mislabeling fine craft. You are
right, it is only a "partially crippling defect," but what a sad commentary
on the field of art history and the legacy of information recorded in the
academic books and journals.

Did anyone say that craft history should be included in standard curriculum
because "crafts are art?" I am curious where you got that notion. Art
historians include crafts in the history of art when it is convenient and
productive for them to do so, although as you said and I reiterated, they
almost never include anything at all about "the craft."

Shoehorned into the "fine arts" category? Come on Snail, that is a little
silly. Fine craft needs to be acknowledged as fine art, because it is fine
art. It really is as simple as that. "Perceived legitimacy or warm'n'fuzzy
inclusionism???" Wow, that's pretty good. Ridiculous, but pretty good

I agree that it is the outright omission of craft that is so disturbing, but
I do not agree that it is a matter of efficiency to exclude it. In art
history courses, survey or otherwise, the most exemplary pieces of historic
and contemporary fine craft need to be covered as fine art, along with all
the rest of the fine art.

I also agree that art history coverage in academia would benefit greatly by
some coverage of the processes of making or forming. I especially like
your last line -
"All of art history is shortchanged by denying the role of craft within (and
alongside) art." That's good.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
Home -
Office -
615/597-6801 x111, FAX 615/597-6803