Design & History: The Past is Always Present

An online course presented by The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.
With Instructor, Dr. Jonathan Clancy, Director of Collections and Preservation.

6 Sessions  |  $25/session | Location: Zoom Online Classroom

Saturdays at 1:00 PM EST | January 23 – February 27, 2021


Design & History: The Past is Always Present
COURSE OVERVIEW

Writing in 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson recorded one of the immutable laws of the creative process: “the new in art is always formed out of the old.”  So while the Arts and Crafts movement appeared to be a new direction in design, it was indebted to the precedents of our collective past, the shared history of design that was understood amongst its manufacturers, designers, and fiercest advocates.  This series seeks to recapture those precedents, not to dilute the importance of the movement, but to better understand it, to wrap it properly in the context of the histories from which it emerged so that its contributions – and the meanings which these objects held to contemporaries – become clearer.  Explored in this manner, design is not only practical, but metaphorical, lyrical, and poetic.  It speaks to us in the hushed and reverent tones of our shared experiences if we can learn to listen to and discern those muted murmurs.  


Registration is required. Once registered and paid, you will receive an email prior to each session with a link to join.

Do you have a scheduling conflict for the live session? You can still enjoy the program. Register and we’ll send you the recording! All paid attendees will be emailed a private link to the session recording when it is available.

Missed us? You can also register retroactively. If you register for a session that has passed, you’ll recieve access to the recording when it is ready.



SCHEDULE

Sat., Jan. 23Reimagining the Gothic: Roots of a Revolution
There is no period more appropriate to begin the historical precedents of the Arts and Crafts movement than the Gothic, a new expression of religious sentiment that flourished in Europe during the 12th to 15th centuries… READ MORE
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Sat., Jan. 30East Meets West: The Birth of Global Design
Western fascination with the Asian aesthetic exploded in the 17th century, as the formation of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 expanded commercial activity and brought sustained contact with Asian objects to increasing numbers of consumers… READ MORE
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Sat., Feb. 6Drama, Design, and Deposed Rulers: William and Mary as Tastemakers
From the late 17th century to the 18th century, Europe was spellbound by the rise of William and Mary, the son-in-law and daughter of James III who deposed the English King and ruled as joint sovereigns until her death from Smallpox at age 32… READ MORE
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Sat., Feb. 13Somewhat Naughty, Frequently Haughty, and Occasionally Bawdy: The Rise of the Rococo
If you listen closely, you might here the indignant question: “What does the Rococo have to do with Stickley in particular or the Arts and Crafts in general?” … READ MORE
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Sat., Feb. 20The Apotheosis of Neoclassicism (or How the West got Serious Again)
Since the rediscovery of Pompei and Herculaneum in the early 18th century, Europe was enthralled with classicism, a sensation that finally became full-blown in the late 18th century… READ MORE
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Sat., Feb. 27You Are What You Eat: Food, Globalism, and the Transformation of Design
It is difficult to fully appreciate that the simple pleasures we take for granted today–coffee, tea, and chocolate–were extravagant novelties that transformed the world of material culture (and culture in general) by their introduction… READ MORE
REGISTER

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS


Week 1: Reimagining the Gothic: Roots of a Revolution

REGISTER

There is no period more appropriate to begin the historical precedents of the Arts and Crafts movement than the Gothic, a new expression of religious sentiment that flourished in Europe during the 12th to 15th centuries.  It provided – for the Pre-Raphaelites, English reformers, and American exponents – a perfect metaphor for their renewed commitment to craft and came to stand as the last moment of pure sincerity in a world that became increasingly illusionistic and insincere since the Renaissance.  From the rise of the movement’s broader acceptance in the 12th century to its height in the 14th century, we explore the meaning of the Gothic, review the forms and terms you’re likely to encounter, and discuss its impact in the late 19th century.


Week 2: East Meets West: The Birth of Global Design

REGISTER

Western fascination with the Asian aesthetic exploded in the 17th century, as the formation of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 expanded commercial activity and brought sustained contact with Asian objects to increasing numbers of consumers.  Throughout the 17th century, this radically changed the course of design history as the Chinese taste forced European manufacturers to adapt their own wares to these latest styles.  The chinoiserie, japonisme, and orientalism that flourished from the 17th to 19th centuries (and which many in the Arts and Crafts movement were indebted to) began here.  The dialog between the East and West was amongst the earliest manifestations of globalism that continues to shape our aesthetic in the modern era.


Week 3: Drama, Design, and Deposed Rulers: William and Mary as Tastemakers

REGISTER

From the late 17th century to the 18th century, Europe was spellbound by the rise of William and Mary, the son-in-law and daughter of James III who deposed the English King and ruled as joint sovereigns until her death from smallpox at age 32.  Cosmopolitan and wealthy, the couple’s reign marked a period of aesthetic innovation that saw the rise of Japanning (a technique by European furniture makers to imitate Asian lacquerware) and increased dispersion of skills between continental craftsmen and their English counterparts.  Following William’s death in 1702, his sister-in-law, Queen Anne ascended to power and continued the transformation of the Western aesthetic, overseeing a period that became more graceful and less rectilinear. These styles were ones that Stickley returned to early (and later) in his career, hoping to capitalize on the rising tide of the Colonial Revival aesthetic and the associations of honesty, craftsmanship, and good design with which Americans imbued these movements. 


Week 4: Somewhat Naughty, Frequently Haughty, and Occasionally Bawdy: The Rise of the Rococo

REGISTER

If you listen closely, you might here the indignant question: “What does the Rococo have to do with Stickley, in particular, or the Arts and Crafts, in general?”  The answer is really twofold.  First, Stickley’s revival furniture of the 1890s and later 1910s relied heavily upon the “Chippendale,” the English manifestation of the movement named for the celebrated cabinet-maker.  Second, as Emerson reminded us in “Art,” “the very avoidance betrays the usage he avoids.”  For Stickley–like many in the Arts and Crafts–the Rococo served as inspiration and foil, it was powerful, almost talismanic; it simply could not be avoided.  Beginning with career of Watteau (ca. 1710), the Rococo was everything the Baroque could never be: light, playful, sin-filled, and curvaceous. It was an era of increased trade with colonies in the Americas, which gave rise to the increasing use of mahogany and other exotic materials.  It was so popular in fact, that after going out of style by 1800, it was revived by the 1840s, and formed the foundation for much of the Colonial Revival aesthetic.  


Week 5: The Apotheosis of Neoclassicism (or How the West got Serious Again)

REGISTER

Since the rediscovery of Pompei and Herculaneum in the early 18th century, Europe was enthralled with classicism, a sensation that finally became full-blown in the late 18th century.  From the paintings of Jacques-Louis David to the ceramics of Wedgwood to the furniture of Sheraton, there was a flourishing neoclassicism that swept across Europe and became the dominant style at the beginning of the 18th century.  Eschewing the frivolity and playful fun of Rococo excess, this was a serious style whose gravitas was conveyed by restrained lines, gentle curves, and the return of symmetry.  Gone were the nude maidens of Boucher frolicking in the waves, replaced instead by the imagined past of classical times–urns, garlands, myths, and bellflowers, rigid and unwavering in their precision, became the preferred decorative scheme.  


Week 6: You Are What You Eat: Food, Globalism, and the Transformation of Design

REGISTER

It is difficult to fully appreciate that the simple pleasures we take for granted today–coffee, tea, and chocolate–were extravagant novelties that transformed the world of material culture (and culture in general) by their introduction.  Simply put: new foods called for new forms.  The consumption of these goods engendered new rituals that changed how we interacted, what we needed to interact, and the very spaces in which we interacted.  Globalism, and in particular the new commodities it brought into the western palate, meant the introduction of forms–from spice mills to sugar boxes to tea pots and tea tables–that were previously unimaginable as a part of daily life.  This session explores the transformation of design–not as an aesthetic phenomenon–as a need-based reaction to a world struggling with how to make sense of globalism and to domesticate its benefits into the rituals of consumption.


Dr. Jonathan Clancy is the Director of Collections and Preservation at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. An author, educator, and curator Clancy received his doctorate in art history in 2008 from the Graduate Center. Formerly Director of the MA in American Fine and Decorative Arts program at Sotheby’s, he left in 2017 to form an advisory group. As an independent consultant, he has worked with private clients and institutions on collection management, exhibition planning, label writing and research, and valuation.


Craftsman Farms, the former home of noted designer Gustav Stickley, is owned by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills and is operated by The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, Inc., (“SMCF”) (formerly known as The Craftsman Farms Foundation, Inc.). SMCF is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New Jersey. Restoration of the National Historic Landmark, Craftsman Farms, is made possible, in part, by a Save America’s Treasures Grant administered by the National Parks Service, Department of the Interior, and by support from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust, The New Jersey Historic Trust, and individual donors. SMCF received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State and a grant from the New Jersey Arts & Culture Recovery Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. Educational programs are funded, in part, by grants from the Arts & Crafts Research Fund.