Defining the Arts & Crafts Revival

The artist-craftsman is celebrated today after decades during which handicraft was devalued.

A scholarly rumble of interest began during the 1960s, but collecting geared up after Princeton University's 1972 exhibition and catalog entitled 'American Arts & Crafts: 1876-1916.'

The artist-craftsman is celebrated today after decades during which handicraft was devalued. Nevertheless, the 'revival' may be seen more as a continuance by future historians (but for the minor interruption of two World Wars and the short-lived, much reviled Modern Movement). Today art and craft are married in so many disciplines: architecture, interior design, pottery and tile, hardware and lighting, furniture, textiles, and even 'fine art.' Increasingly, artisans produce (and their clients demand) new work that interprets the vocabulary and philosophy of the art movements of a century ago.

LIKE THE ORIGINALS, various influences and media can be seen in arts and crafts pieces. This 1995 washstand by Kevin Rodel recalls a 1904 piece by Scots designer C.R. Mackintosh. American and European influences are sometimes combined by Revival artisans. photo by dennis griggs

ART POTTERY has never been more appreciated. Ephraim Faience, which relies on familiar naturalistic (and often Japanesque) motifs like dragonflies, gingko leaves, and water lilies, reports that new designs by their artisans sell better than strict reproductions.

ART GLASS is only one medium taken up by today's artisans. Lundberg Studios, founded in 1970, does new work reminiscent of Tiffany's Art Nouveau glass as well as Deco and contemporary designs. Going strong now: metalwork, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and the decorative arts.

IN TEXTILES, hindsight makes possible an eclectic offering recalling designers such as Morris and Wright as well as rediscovered geniuses like Voysey and forgotten Americans including Candace Wheeler. These fine woven fabrics in true period colors are from Archive Editions.

THE REVIVAL (or is it survival?) is symbolized by the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. The hotel and spa was built in 1913 and furnished by the Roycroft shops; it hosted its first Arts and Crafts Conference in 1988, which in year 18 is hotter than ever.

A FUSION of English, Scots, Craftsman, Prairie, Hispanic, and/or Asian influences describes furniture of the Revival; the range is broader (better, some say) than that of the original movement. This is Thos. Moser's freestanding version of a Japanese-influenced Bungalow-era built-in, in American cherry.

FAMOUS ONCE AGAIN are such designers as CFA Voysey [1857-1941], the English architect who designed everything from buildings and furniture to wallpaper and silverware. The chair by David Berman of Trustworth Studios is after a 1902 original; J.R. Burrows has issued Voysey's 'Bird and Poppy' in cotton-linen union. photo by Carl Tremblay.

Art + Craft - this week's picks