ARC 331 Forum 03: Art/Craft/Machine (Group 1)

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 1: Wahlfeld, Burkhart, CarballoCollins, David, Bradman, Brown,Taylor

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.


  1. Reply
    Desmond Wahlfeld February 15, 2019

    Wright on machines, consumerism, and quality: “The machine is intellect mastering the drudgery of earth that the plastic art may live; that the margin of leisure and strength by which man’s life upon the earth can be made beautiful, may immeasurably widen; its function ultimately to emancipate human expression!”
    (towards the end of the first third)

    • Reply
      jacob collins February 19, 2019

      I think that this can reveal that Wright though supportive of technology, thought that technology could enhance life by giving us more leisure and down time while technology does the work. This idea differs from Morris’ ideas of the lesser and greater arts because Morris’ idea behind the lesser and the greater arts was that everything that is considered as art would be made by hand, not by a machine. The machine made things could never be considered a greater art because it could have no connection to a persons spiritual essence. I think that Wrights idea behind this quote is that the lesser art being made by machines can enhance a persons life by allowing more time for leisure and make the things that are considered the lesser arts.

    • Reply
      Gabe David February 19, 2019

      I think that this quotation represents a detraction from Ruskin’s ideas about machines taking over handmade works. To Ruskin, machine made goods lose their integrity and the joys of creating something that is successful. It is in the trial and error process of a human being, the imperfect, that the object or design is celebrated. It is because the object or design has been made to look perfect even though the person who made it is not perfect that the value in the object is found. Machine made objects the lose their soul, their necessary imperfection. “…the sense of human labor and care spent upon it….[A]ll our interest in the carved work, our sense of its richness…of its delicacy…Its true delightfulness depends on our discerning in it the record of thoughts, and intents, and trials, and heartbreakings[sic]-of recoveries and joyfulnesses of success…and in that worth of the thing, just as much as the worth of anything else we call precious”.

    • Reply
      Jordan T February 20, 2019

      I find this excerpt from Wright to be quite reminiscent of Morris’s dreams of fearless rest and hopeful work. Morris desired to liberate the worker from the joylessness of their everyday labor by giving them training and a reason for pride in their own work. My impression is that Morris would have viewed the machine a primary perpetrator for the joy-stealing nature of the work he despised, which is where Wright would stray, here claiming that the machine’s potential is to liberate art instead of hamper it.

    • Reply
      Connor Brown February 20, 2019

      The philosophy Morris had for the Arts and Crafts movement is that people’s approach to the movement can be divided into two categories: The lesser arts (created more for function) and the greater arts (created more for emotional experience). Considering Wright’s view, Morris who would normally interpret machinery and consumerism as supporting the lesser arts. However, he would find that Wright makes a good argument that it can be both as well. The function of the machine, as Morris says, can be made beautiful which ultimately leads to emancipation of “human expression”. This coincides with attributes of the greater arts because because it appeals to emotion and intellect by means of the senses.

    • Reply
      Desmond Wahlfeld February 22, 2019

      To summarize this discussion, we see Wright’s supportiveness of the machine as a tool that would allow people to have more downtime and leisure which appears to break away from Morris and Ruskin’s ideal of handcrafted work something that was of great importance to the Arts and Crafts movement in England. As opposed to Ruskin would be to this idea, it would appear that Morris would be more accepting of the machine as a tool of craft.
      Morris’s idea of fearless rest and hopeful work aligns with Wright’s idea of allowing more time for leisure, this, however, is more applicable to Morris’s idea of lesser arts as that these items don’t require an emotional experience like that of greater arts. When a machine is used in the creation of a lesser art I would make the assumption that this would be only acceptable in the idea that items are produced uniquely with the machine rather than through a means of mass production.
      Ruskin appears to be resentful of the precision that a machine could produce stating that the imperfection in handmade objects is what makes the items unique and is celebrated because this reflects the humanity in the creation process.
      In conclusion, it appears that William Morris bridges the p between Ruskin’s handcraftedness ideal, and Wright’s machine crafted substitution for the arts in the Arts and Crafts movement.

  2. Reply
    Chloe Burkhart February 16, 2019

    Wright on artists’ attitudes about machines: “…artists clinging sadly to the old order, … would wheedle the giant frame of things back to its childhood or forward to its second childhood, while this machine age is suffering for the artist who accepts, works, and sings as he works, with the joy of the here and now!”
    (In the middle of his essay)

    • Reply
      Grant Bradman February 19, 2019

      This portion of the essay is beginning to depart from what Morris had expressed in ‘The Lesser Arts of Life’. Directly after this outtake Wright states “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 to since the beginning of time.” In ‘The Lesser Arts of Life’ Morris expressed that things that are good and quality take time and are made by hand, but Wright is now saying that if you are able to get things done efficiently it is good as well.

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