ARC 331 Forum 03: Art/Craft/Machine (Group 3)

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 3: White, Rogers, Romero, Rutter, Starcevich, Pletcher, Rodriguez, Van Bruggen

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.

8 Comments

  1. Reply
    Andrew Rogers February 16, 2019

    Wright on politics & society: “the machine was a great forerunner of democracy.”

    • Reply
      Abacuc Rodriguez February 19, 2019

      Wright’s statement on politics and society is a departure from the ideas that Morris presents. Wright believes that the machine is great for society and is the future of our society. Morris has a strong belief in individuality and machines limit that individuality. Factories brought forth mass production and created lower prices for products. However these products are all the same and have less meaning to the individual. Morris believes that “until we have a better collective taste we are going to struggle to have a better economy.” This better collective taste refers to individualized products that do not come from a factory. Morris believes individuals should buy products at a just price in which work is honorable. Morris believes consumers should be educated and that the key to creating a great economy lies in our homes.

    • Reply
      Andrew Rogers February 21, 2019

      Overall, we see that Morris and Wright have different ideas on machines. Morris does not agree with the use of machines to produce identical products. He thinks that it lacks individuality even if the things were designed in a delicate and thoughtful way. On the other hand Wright thinks that machines are a step in the right direction and can be used for good in our society.

  2. Reply
    Diana P Romero February 17, 2019

    Wright on materials: “Now let us learn from the machine. It teaches us that the beauty of wood lies first in its qualities as wood.”

    • Reply
      Elizabeth Van Bruggen February 18, 2019

      William Morris believed that our personal belongings should consist of things that are hand crafted and not machine made to be considered as a lesser art. He would disagree with Wrights statement that we should “learn from the machine”. In fact, he would say that in order for our possessions 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”. However, Morris would agree with Wright about the beauty of wood because wood is a natural material and he says that the “love of nature in all its forms must be the ruling spirit of such works of art as we are considering”. So, wood, in its natural state, could indeed be a part of what makes up the lesser arts of life.
      [Ruskin, John. The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1851). New York: Dover, 1989.]

    • Reply
      Max Starcevich February 19, 2019

      This quote from Wright is a departure from Ruskin’s argument in the Lamp of Truth that, “the substitution of cast or machine work for that of the hand,” is Operative Deceit, and, “all cast and machine work is bad.” However, Wright and Ruskin do agree in some respect. Just as Ruskin saw no worth in machine cast iron, Wright sees no worth in machine carved wood. Instead, Wright elaborates on the problem that Ruskin saw by making the case that machines, although incapable of ornamenting wood properly, can be used to cut wood to best display its inherently beautiful qualities. In summary, Ruskin saw little benefit in the application of machines in architecture, but Wright saw the machine as a tool which could focus attention on the inherent beauty of materials.

    • Reply
      Caleb Rutter February 19, 2019

      This statement is a continuation of the lamp of truth and the agreeableness of ornament discussed by Ruskin. He talks about the way that ornament is accepted is agreed upon is one “that of the abstract beauty of its forms” but the other is “the sense of human labor and care spent upon it”. By this Ruskin is saying that just like “the worth of a diamond is simply the understanding of the time it must take”, we can learn from machines that we need to appreciate the beauty in a materials actual qualities. Deceitfulness in architecture or ornament is not the goal and if that is what is being produced by the machine then we can learn to step back from that and see whether the machine is harming or hurting the beauty of the design. Ruskin says, “I feel very strongly that there is no hope of the progress of the arts of any nation which indulges in these vulgar and cheap substitutes for real decoration”, talking about cast-iron, and that continues the idea that we can learn from the role of the machine to see how it takes away from the truth of something’s original qualities.

  3. Reply
    Diana P Romero February 23, 2019

    Overall, Morris’s thinking wraps around the classification of arts into lesser and greater arts, Wright does embrace the use of machines and not handmade, and Ruskin focuses in the time invested in the art made. Morris’ criteria differs from Wright’s to the point of using machines in any kind of way to create ornamentation. Despite this idea in which they disagree, I would say that Wright can be relatable to Morris and Ruskin even though this last two characters find degrading for materials to be put through a machine. They all share the idea of high quality materials, this quality defined by the nature of the material, and the way ornamentation is able to show that theres was a bigger thinking behind it besides only letting be in the machines will.

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