ARC 331 Forum 03: Art/Craft/Machine (Group 2)

Having engaged with primary writings of the Arts and Crafts Movement from Ruskin and Morris last week, and with a lecture by Wright this week that shows the transfer of those ideas to the American context, consider how Wright draws and departs from his British forebears. Each member of the group will have a distinct function, all contributing to the forum as a whole.

  • Group 2: Medina, Nickell, Okesson, Pelley, Wills, Wise Done, Filipowski, Foster

Green names

  • by Saturday midnight, make three SHORT posts. Each of these separate posts should
    • cite one single idea that you draw out of Wright’s essay “The Art and Craft of the Machine” and that you think is one of the most important ideas that he wanted to convey
    • be drawn from a distinct part of the essay–beginning, middle, and end, and
    • be written as a phrase or maybe a single sentence using your own words; no longer than that, with a direct quote from the essay that supports your idea.
    • note: Dr. Amundson will reveal a select number from among these submissions for the rest of the class, looking for variety and comprehensiveness.

Purple names

  • by Wednesday at 1 PM, add to the conversation by choosing one of the original posts from your colleagues and replying directly to it. In no more than 150 words, explain to what degree you see Wright’s concern as a continuation of Ruskin’s ideas as expressed in The Seven Lamps of Architecture, or a departure from them. Primarily explain your interpretation of Ruskin’s iideas in your own words; providing specific quotations will be helpful to support your ideas.

Blue names 

  • by Wednesday at 1 PM, add to the conversation by choosing one of the original posts from your colleagues and replying directly to it. In no more than 150 words, explain to what degree you see Wright’s concern as a continuation of Morris’ ideas as expressed in “The Lesser Arts of Life,” or a departure from them. Primarily explain your interpretation of Morris’ ideas in your own words; providing specific quotations will be helpful to support your ideas.

Green names

  • by next Saturday at 1 PM, review the replies of your colleagues to your original post and consider what transpired in class; provide summative thoughts that draw the conversation to a conclusion, explaining the overall relationship of Ruskin, Morris, and Wright.

13 Comments

  1. Reply
    Brooke Nickell February 16, 2019

    Wright on machines and the aims of art: “the machine is capable of carrying to fruition the highest ideals in art”

    • Reply
      David Filipowski February 19, 2019

      People seem to not take interest in the lesser arts of life because they do not affect them emotionally. But according to Morris, this is not a just reason to ignore these lesser arts. The main distinction Morris makes between the two types of arts is; the greater arts appeal to the spiritual desires or interests in man, whereas the lesser arts satisfy the physical wants of man yet still allow individual expression through the process of making. I believe that Wright’s ideals are a continuation of Morris’ views because he seems to believe that art will be recognized regardless of what form it is in, weather it fits into the category of greater art or lesser art. As for the use of machine, Wright seems to believe that the machine is a means of helping create art, but the individual expression and application of imagination is still present when the machines are part of the process.

      • Reply
        Monica Medina February 23, 2019

        Thats a very good point that you are making. Morris said something along the lines that machine should not be utilized to create art and that they should be evidence of handmade work. Do you think Morris saw machines more as a tool or as a hindrance to further exploring and developing pieces of art? I think they potential saw art in the same light, which is individual representation, but that they differed in the way they believed it should be created.

    • Reply
      Aaron Foster February 19, 2019

      The idea of the machine capable of producing the ideals of art is directly contrary from the views of Morris. Morris believes that the machine should not be utilized to create works of art. It is a tool that makes the impossible possible, but there should be evidence of the hand’s work. Morris specifically states, “… they [works of art] must show obvious traces of the hand of man guided directly by his brain, without more interposition of machines than is absolutely necessary to the nature of the work done.” Wright sees the machine as a tool that can create ideal art. It is somewhat of a deterministic view and in direct contradiction to what Morris believes when discussing Lesser arts, not even considering it to be a Greater Art in any context.

    • Reply
      Adam Wise February 20, 2019

      Wright believed it to be somewhat of a disgrace that within the Arts and Crafts movement, the value of hand-craftsmanship had come to be venerated to such a high degree that true artistry suffered as a result, saying “the whole sentiment of craft degenerated to a sentimentality having no longer decent significance or commercial integrity” (p.87). Wright saw the machine as an opportunity for the artist, well-versed in the craft of the machine, to move beyond the limitations once enforced by the physical limitations of hand-craft (time, cost, precision, etc.). the machine offers the artist a greater imaginative scope within which he can manipulate and create, a greater opportunity to express what truly is artistry, that being the genius and imagination of the artist manifest in his creation.

    • Reply
      Taylor Wills May 2, 2019

      I feel it is clear Ruskin and the rest of the British Arts and Crafts movement followers did not support the use of machinery in art. John Ruskin states, “The last form of fallacy which it will be remembered we had to deprecate, was the substitution of cast or machine work for that of the hand, generally expressible as Operative Deceit.” He was against the use of iron in most cases, but William Morris also supported the disuse of machines by blatantly stating: “Furthermore, if any of these things make any claim to be considered works of art, they must show obvious traces of the hand of man guided directly by his brain, without more interposition of machines than is absolutely necessary to the nature of the work done.”
      Thus, Wright’s claim that art can be created to the same quality by machine as by hand is a departure from the British Arts and Crafts movement. The individual expression is lost when machines manufacture any object, and that object no longer holds the same value as handcrafted art. Often times, it is the small imperfections, the proof that human hands formed the piece, that makes handcrafted pieces more emotive and a more powerful piece of art.

  2. Reply
    Emma Okesson February 17, 2019

    Wright on simplicity: “Simplicity in art, rightly understood, is a synthetic, positive quality, in which we may see evidence of mind, breadth of scheme, wealth of detail, and withal the sense of completeness found in a tree or a flower.”

    • Reply
      Parker Done February 20, 2019

      Wright’s comments on simplicity are essentially reflect Morris’ idea of the lesser arts. Valuing the intrinsic beauty in the simplest, most common thing like a tree is the basis of what Morris preached. His distinction between the lesser and greater arts was found in the purpose of the thing itself. Greater arts objects had sole artistic value, while lesser arts were found in items that served a function not specifically related to its beauty. A chair, for example, can be a beautiful thing even though its main goal is to sit on. Such is also the case with the tree or flower Wright mentions. These things have practical functions in the environment, but also provide us with beauty.

      • Reply
        Emma Okesson February 23, 2019

        I’m going to challenge you on the idea that lesser arts are items that “serve a function not specifically related to its beauty”. According to Morris, the lesser arts have to be beautiful. In The Lesser Arts of Life, he said “…If our houses, our clothes, our household furniture and utensils are not works of art, they are either wretched makeshifts or, what is worse, degrading shams of better things.” That beauty is entirely related to the function of these objects, since one of Morris’ rules for the lesser arts is “whatsoever art there is in any of these articles of daily use must be evolved in a natural and unforced manner from the material that is dealt with”. This means that we must be honest in the way a thing looks as related to the material, but also honest in the way a thing looks as related to its daily use. The function of the lesser art is a driving force in the evolution of it from its material. Morris says “The other kind [lesser arts], called into existence by material needs, is bound no less to recognize the aspirations of the soul and receives the impress of its striving towards perfection.” So the material function of these items does not diminish the need for beauty and art to be found in that object.

        That being said, I think that Wright and Morris would agree on the idea of simplicity. In The Art and Craft of the Machine, Wright goes on to say “A thing to be simple needs only to be true to itself in organic sense.” This ties into what Morris says about a lesser art growing naturally from its material. By creating that tie to the material from which an object is made, it is given a positive simplicity (as Wright describes it), giving beauty to the object while not working alongside the original, beautiful material.

  3. Reply
    Monica Medina February 18, 2019

    Wright on art and simplicity: “Let us understand the significance of the word art- simplicity- for it is vital for the art of the machine.”

  4. Reply
    Monica Medina February 18, 2019

    Wright on machinery and not being blinded by the enormous versatility of it : “We must walk blindfolded not to see that all that this magnificent resource of machine and material has brought us so far is a complete degradation of every type and form sacred to the art of old…”

  5. Reply
    Monica Medina February 18, 2019

    Wright on using machinery to its full potential: “If the artist will only open his eyes he will see that the machine he dreads has made it possible to wipe out the mass of meaningless torture to which mankind, in the name of the artistic, has been more or less subjected since time began for that matter…”

  6. Reply
    Brooke Nickell February 23, 2019

    Wright and Morris disagreed on the use of machines in their work. They Machine Morris saw took away from art; however, Wright saw them as a way to free the artist form the labor intensiveness of hand craft. With the use of machines an artist was more free to imagine bigger with things that would be difficult of impossible to produce by hand. The machine that wright saw was one that helped create art.

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