Gustav Stickley (American, 1858-1942); United Crafts (1901-1903). Armchair (no. 2342), 1901. Eastwood, New York. Oak and leather. Collection of Crab Tree Farm.

Arthur Wesley Dow (American, 1857-1922). Boats at Rest, c. 1895. Oil on canvas. The Art Institute of Chicago, through prior acquisition of the Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection.

The Origins of and Growth of Popularity of the Arts and Crafts Movement

Edward William Godwin (English, 1833-1886); Made by William Watt, Art Furniture Warehouse (1857-1887). Sideboard, c. 1876. London, England. Ebonized mahogany with glass, silvered brass. The Art Institute of Chicago, restricted gift of Robert Allerton, Harry and Maribel G. Blum, Mary and Leigh Block, Mary Waller Langhorne, Mrs. Siegfried G. Schmidt, Tillie C. Cohn, Richard T. Crane, Jr., Memorial, Eugene A. Davidson, Harriet A. Fox, Florence L. Notter, Kay and Frederick Krehbiel, European Decorative Arts Purchase, and Irving and June Seaman endowments; through prior acquisition of the Reid Martin Estate.

Charles Robert Ashbee (English, 1863-1942); Guild of Handicraft (1888-1907). Loop-Handled Dish, 1902/03. London, England. Silver and chalcedony. The Art Institute of Chicago, European Decorative Arts Purchase Fund.

Archibald Knox (English, 1864-1933); Liberty and Company (1875-present). Rose Bowl, 1902. Birmingham, England. Silver, enamel, and turquoise. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Crab Tree Farm Foundation.

Eva Watson-Schütze (American, 1867-1935). Jane Addams, 1910. Platinum print with mercury and graphite. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Robert Riddle Jarvie (American, 1865-1941). Punch Bowl, Ladle, and Tray, 1911. Chicago, Illinois. Silver. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Hattstaedt in memory of his father, John J. Hattstaedt.

Designed by Annie E. Aldrich (American, 1857-1937); Made by John Swallow (American, born England, active c. 1910); Decorated by Sarah Tutt (American, 1859-1947); Marblehead Pottery (1904-1936). Vase, c. 1909. Marblehead, Massachusetts. Glazed earthenware. The Art Institute of Chicago, Vance American Fund; restricted gift of the Antiquarian Society.

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973). The Pool, 1900. Platinum print with hand-darkened edges. The Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959); Linden Glass Company (1882-1934). “Tree of Life” Window, 1904. Chicago, Illinois. Made for the Darwin D. Martin House, Buffalo, New York. Glass in brass-coated, copper plated zinc cames, mounted in wood frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of the Antiquarian Society through the Mrs. Philip K. Wrigley Fund.

 

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
312-443-3600
Chicago
Apostles of Beauty:
Arts and Crafts
from Britain to Chicago

November 7, 2009-
January 31, 2010

Apostles of Beauty traces the Arts and Crafts movement through its complex stylistic and philosophical influences. The exhibition explores the movement's early roots in Britain, particularly the impact of designer William Morris and his circle on the subsequent generation of architects and designers, and examines the phenomenon of "Japanism" in both British and American design. As the exhibition develops the history of the movement, it also delineates how the style moved from the artist workshop to the consumer home, particularly through popularization of the style via specialized periodicals, also on view here. Turning to the relationship between the movement's philosophies and pictorialist photography, the exhibition extends the reach of Arts and Crafts beyond domestic design to progressive movements in other media. Finally, the exhibition outlines Chicago's early acceptance of the British model and its later role in uniting hand and machine in the service of beauty.

The Art Institute of Chicago has organized a major exhibition that, for the first time, traces the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain through its manifestation in Chicago. Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago presents nearly 190 outstanding examples by the movement's British originators, such as William Morris, Elbert Hubbard, and Charles Robert Ashbee, as well as its greatest American practitioners, including Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibition highlights a wide range of objects that encompasses ceramics, furniture, metalwork, paintings, photographs, and textiles. With a strong emphasis on Chicago's absorption and interpretation of the movement, Apostles of Beauty draws deep on Chicago's rich collections of Arts and Crafts objects, featuring works culled from the University of Chicago, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Crab Tree Farm, private collections, and the Art Institute's own superb permanent collection. This is the first Arts and Crafts exhibition mounted at the Art Institute in more than three decades.

"Chicago, as the home of such architects and designers as Frank Lloyd Wright, is justly proud of its contributions to one of the most politically progressive and aesthetically compelling artistic movements of modern times," said Judith Barter, curator of the exhibition and Field-McCormick Chair of American Art at the Art Institute. "Apostles of Beauty is intended to place the work of such figures in the full philosophical, political, and artistic context of the Arts and Crafts movement as it developed in Britain, tracing direct links across the Atlantic to the flowering of Arts and Crafts in the East and West Coasts, and specifically in Chicago. No other city has such a wealth of art from this period, and we are pleased to exhibit here works from private collections rarely shown before that show the reach, depth, and aspirations of the movement."

The Arts and Crafts movement began in Victorian England, the cradle of the industrial revolution, the heart of mechanization, and, at the time, the epitome of capitalist thinking. Rebelling against the cheap, mass-produced object populating the homes of the middle classes, the originators of the Arts and Crafts movement stressed anti-industrialism, the elevation of the individual worker, the belief in rewarding labor and the handmade object, and the ability of a beautiful and well designed environment to provide moral uplift. The movement was both a philosophy and a style that permeated domestic interiors, including decorative arts and furniture, painting, and textiles. Particularly in Britain, the movement critiqued the values of Victorian society and its increasingly rigid class structure and exploitation of the laboring classes.

The socially progressive ambitions of the Arts and Crafts movement were accompanied by a new aesthetic focus that sought to integrate art into daily life. In their rejection of the current industrialist ethos, theorists and designers looked to the pre-industrial medieval past, the natural world, and non-western (particularly Japanese) culture for aesthetic inspiration. The forms of Arts and Crafts objects are varied and organic, and rooted in an integrity of materials and straightforward construction. As the movement developed, and certainly by the time it began to flower in the United States in the 1890s, it reached a rapprochement with industrial culture, recognizing that fully handmade materials were expensive and time-consuming to produce and instead opting to retain the look and spirit of handcraft while attempting broader production.

The movement had special resonance in Chicago, one of the most industrial of American cities at the turn of the 20th century. It was well suited to Chicago's established reform movement, exemplified by Jane Addams and the Hull House. There immigrants and women received training in handicraft skills not only to beautify domestic life but also to provide them with viable, honorable work. As a result, Chicago is seen as one of the most important centers of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States: by the 1890s, the city was home to a wide range of people and organizations committed to progressive beliefs--from Addams to John Dewey--and to reshaping the social order. The union of the movement with the machine aesthetic of Chicago launched the beginning of modern design in the city.

Apostles of Beauty offers one of the most comprehensive presentations of the Arts and Crafts movement ever mounted, due to the depth of local and private collections in the greater Chicago area. The exhibition, which can only be seen at the Art Institute, allows visitors the rare opportunity to see the movement unfold in the city where it reached its full manifestation and where many of its treasures still reside.

Accompanying Apostles of Beauty are programs for visitors of all ages. Highlights include a screening of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's film Frank Lloyd Wright; a lecture about the English Arts and Crafts Movement and the Cotswolds with scholar Mary Greensted; weekday gallery talks on the exhibition; and hands-on art activities in the Ryan Education Center for the whole family. For a complete list of programs, please check out the Art Institute's Web site: www.artinstituteofchicago.org

A lavishly illustrated catalogue exclusively distributed by Yale University Press accompanies Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago. The publication features essays by Judith A. Barter, the Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art and exhibition curator; Sarah E. Kelly, the Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Family Associate Curator of American Art ; Ellen E. Roberts, Assistant Curator of American Art; Brandon K. Ruud, Assistant Research Curator of American Art; and Monica Obniski, Research and Exhibition Assistant in the Department of American Art, all at the Art Institute of Chicago. Numbering 208 pages, this hardcover book sells for $45.00 and will be available in November 2009 in the Museum Shop.

Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago is curated by Judith A. Barter, Field-McCormick Curator and Chair of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago. Support for this exhibition is generously provided in part by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (English, 1857-1941); Alexander Morton and Company (1867-1906). Purple Bird, c. 1899. Darvel, Scotland. Wild silk and cotton, complementary weft plain weave double cloth. The Art Institute of Chicago, Louise Lutz Endowment.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882). Beata Beatrix, 1872. Oil on canvas. The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles L. Hutchinson Collection.

William Morris (English, 1834-1896); Produced by Morris and Company (1875-1905); Woven and printed at Merton Abbey Works (1881-1940). Two Panels Entitled “Cray”, 1885. London or Wimbledon, England. Inscription (on selvage): Rec. D. Morris & Company, 449 Oxford Street, W. Cotton, plain weave; block printed (two panels). The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Mrs. Charles F. Batchelder.

Fritz Albert (born Alsace-Lorraine, 1865-1940); Gates Potteries (1899-c. 1930), a division of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company. Vase, c. 1905. Terra Cotta, Illinois. Glazed earthenware. The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Crab Tree Farm Foundation.

Alfred Steiglitz, American, 1864-1946. The Net Mender, 1894. Carbon print, 41.9 x 54.4 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

 

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904); James Dixon and Sons (1835-1920). Teapot, c. 1880. Sheffield, England. Electroplate silver and ebony. Collection of Crab Tree Farm.