*PLEASE NOTE: The live, online sessions of these classes have passed. Register here to receive a private link to the recording of the live sessions when they are available to view online. [More Coming Soon]
OCTOBER 2020 series:
6. THE CRAFTSMAN: The Life & Work of Gustav Stickley
|6.1||Sat., Oct. 3, 2020||“There is Properly No History; Only Biography”: The Life and Work of Gustav Stickley|
In his essay “History,” from 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the bold–and strikingly modern–claim that “All history is subjective. There is properly no history; only biography.” We begin the celebration of Stickley this month with a close look at his biography, examining Stickley’s life and tracing his output from the earliest forms we know of, to the latest pieces he made in his long and storied career. The session will shed new light on aspects of Stickley’s career and demonstrate that the origins of his Arts and Crafts sensibilities began well before he published “New Furniture from the Workshop of Gustave Stickley” in 1900 and discuss–for the first time–a previously unknown company that he founded.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
|6.2||Sat., Oct. 10, 2020||“Devoted to the New Domestic Art”: Craftsman Homes and the Birth of Stickley’s Empire|
If The Craftsman served as the means by which Stickley introduced new audiences to the philosophy behind his furniture, it was his Craftsman houses that made these aspirations concrete: they became a means by which people could realize their aspirations and actively an engage the Arts and Crafts as a lifestyle. From the genesis of this idea in May 1903’s “The Craftsman House,” through the designs of Harvey Ellis later that year, to the formation of “The Craftsman Homebuilder’s Club” in April 1904, this session traces the evolution of Stickley’s Craftsman Houses. In addition to the history of this aspect of Stickley’s career, this session brings you inside the Parker House, an immaculately preserved and privately-owned Stickley home with original woodwork and fireplace system.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
|6.3||Sat., Oct. 17, 2020||“The Cultivation of Human Sympathy”: Stickley’s Early Factory and the Ideal Workshop|
There exists a tension, inherent in any discussions of the Arts and Crafts movement, between the ideals assigned to the movement, and the economic realities that governed production, and hindsight is often too blunt an instrument to be useful. This session explores the early factory of Stickley–from 1898 to 1904–and his productions, not through the false binary of a gauzy idealism vs. insincere capitalist pandering, but looking more deeply at his factory as a mediation between these competing poles. Originally planned as a topic for the Stickley Weekend Symposium, it is a more nuanced look at the current exhibition that explores the degree to which Stickley achieved –as Oscar Lovell Triggs wrote in The Craftsman–“a form of labor which aims to be artistic one the one hand and educative of the other.” It frames Stickley’s factory in relation to Triggs’ ideal workshop, of which “the cultivation of human sympathy–that delicate something that is the source of all high endeavor” was a measure of success.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
|6.4||Sat., Oct. 31, 2020||“By Hammer and Hand”: A New History of Stickley’s Metal Shop|
Perhaps no other aspect of Stickley’s career is in need of revision than his decision to expand the factory into the production of metal wares in late 1902. New evidence has challenged much of the conventional wisdom that surrounds the shop history and sheds new light on the timeline of the work, the workers who made the objects, and the sources that Stickley looked to for design ideas as he developed this aesthetic. What emerges from synthesizing these new sources is a more complete, and complicated, history of the shop that elevates previously unknown workers and companies to replace of the names to which we have grown accustomed.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
SEPTEMBER 2020 series:
5. The Creative Spark: Rethinking Decoration in the Arts and Crafts Movement
|5.1||Sat., Sept. 12, 2020||George Ohr: Ceramic history, craft pottery, and the avant-garde in America|
George Edgar Ohr was a powerful potter; even more than a hundred years after his death he is still in control of the narrative of his life. He was–and remains–”the mad potter of Biloxi,” the “apostle of individuality,” “the greatest art potter on earth,” a sophisticate and rube, the man of a thousand nicknames. This sessions looks at Ohr as all of those things but acknowledges his deep engagement with contemporary and historical ceramics, reevaluates his relationship to craft potters of the period, and sheds new light on his rambling travelogue “Some Facts in the History of a Unique Personality,” which was published in 1901.
|5.2||Sat., Sept. 19, 2020||The Anvil Chorus: Facts and Fictions of the Roycroft Metal Shop|
As unlikely as it seems, the Roycroft Community was amongst the movement’s longest-surviving shops, producing metalwork for nearly four decades. To put this in perspective, that is longer than Robert Riddle Jarvie, Gustav Stickley, and Karl Kipp’s Tookay Shop combined. From the problematic nature of the “early, middle, late” system of marks, to what we know and don’t know about the maker’s marks, this class is a blend of connoisseurship, history, and critical thinking. We will cover the history of the shop from inception through the 1930s, the finishes developed by the shop, and the numbering systems assigned throughout the endeavor’s long duration.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
|5.3||Sat., Sept. 26, 2020||“Tortured by Exaggerated Lines“: The Decorative Impulse and the Arts and Crafts |
In the opening issue of The Craftsman, Stickley informed readers: “We are no longer tortured by exaggerated lines the reasons for which are past divining. We have not to deal with falsifying veneers, or with disfiguring so-called ornament. We are, first of all, met by plain shapes which not only declare, but emphasize their purpose.” But perhaps he spoke too soon–or only for himself. Despite protestations to the contrary, many in the Arts and Crafts movement reveled in tortured and exaggerated lines, disfiguring ornament, and ornament in many mediums. From the heavily carved furniture of Karl von Rydingsvärd and Charles Rohlfs, to the iron work of Frank Koralewsky, to the painted work of Arthur and Lucia Matthews, the movement was not only the restrained and staid vision that Stickley often promoted in the Craftsman, but included diverse and enthusiastically contradictory set of practitioners who celebrated the decorative impulse.
|Recording Not Yet Available Online|
AUGUST 2020 series:
4. Making Her Mark: Women in the American Arts and Crafts Movement
All too often the history of the Arts and Crafts movement is told from a male perspective that undervalues the contributions and skills of the women who helped define the practice and aesthetics of this period. As individual craft workers, to key players in larger concerns, to the heads of major operations, women were essential to the movement. Making Her Mark: Women in the American Arts and Crafts Movement is a four-part series that explores the female artisans, entrepreneurs, and educators that shaped the movement many so cherish today.
|4.1||Sat., Aug. 8, 2020||Newcomb College: An Art Industry for Southern Women|
Emerging out of the Reconstruction period’s mentality and fusing that with the emphases on self-improvement and manual training espoused by many in the Arts and Crafts movement, Newcomb College became a locus for artistic achievement that provided women the skills necessary for dignified employment at a time when options were severely limited. In an abrupt inversion of the societal norms, men’s roles at the enterprise were almost entirely as support staff, their contributions limited to the manner in which they could assist with the broader mandate of elevating the work and vision of the craftswomen. This session explores the contributions of Newcomb College, from pottery to metalwork to textiles, not only for the artistic qualities recognized both then and now, but as a model for the advancement of young women that shaped other ventures in the period.
|4.2||Sat., Aug. 15, 2020||Tough as Nails: Female Metalworkers of the Arts and Crafts|
Although the field of metalwork tended to be dominated by males in the period, women played a crucial role in the dissemination of the aesthetic and the rising popularity of hand-crafted metalwork throughout the first decades of the twentieth century. This session focuses primarily on the careers of Jessie Preston and Elizabeth Copeland, using their work and lives as a lens to think more broadly about the contributions of craftswomen in this field. While both were heralded in the time as exceptional designers and skilled craft workers, their paths diverged in the 1910s as Preston shifted her focus to the rehabilitative aspects of handicrafts, eventually traveling to France to work with soldiers wounded in World War I. By unpacking the careers of these two exceptional women, the full range of Arts and Crafts ideals is explored and made concrete.
|4.3||Sat., Aug. 22, 2020||Industry Leaders: Maria Longworth Nichols, Louise McLaughlin, and Susan Frackleton|
The history of art pottery in the United States cannot be told without recognizing the tremendous impact that women had on the development of this industry. More than forty years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment finally guaranteed their right to vote, women were reshaping the ceramics industry in large operations and as individual ceramists. This session examines three of the most important contributors to the field to think about the women who shaped this field as industry leaders whose work continues to shape the manner in which we understand and appreciate American Art Pottery.
|4.4||Sat., Aug. 29, 2020||Adelaide Robineau and Art Education in the United States|
Adelaide Robineau’s long career and numerous contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement is difficult to sum up succinctly. A talented ceramist whose command of porcelain and high-fired glazes as a practice for the individual potter made her an exception amongst her peers, that aspect of her work often overshadows the tremendous contributions she made through her publication of the magazine Keramic Studio and related books and pamphlets. More than just a resource for the aspiring potter and professional alike, Robineau’s magazine was a major force in the spread of Arts and Crafts design ideals. This session considers Robineau not only as ceramist, but as educator and entrepreneur to highlight the multifaceted achivements of her storied career.
JULY 2020 series:
3. Craftsman Utopia: Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms
|3.1||Sat., July 11, 2020||“Direct Application of Every Principle We Advocate“: Mr. Stickley’s Vision|
When Stickley announced his intention to build Craftsman Farms to readers of The Craftsman in October 1908, he stated that the buildings would represent “direct application of every principle we advocate.” More than just a country home for an industrialist, Craftsman Farms underwent significant revisions as Stickley refined his plans for the property and began the process of building. From its inception as a “craftsman village,” to the plans for the “Craftsman Farms School for citizenship,” to its eventual use as a family home and working farm, this session explores the motivations behind Stickley’s decision to move to Morris Plains, New Jersey and places him in the broader context of the reform movement and utopian communities.
|3.2||Sat., July 18, 2020||Building Utopia: The Development of The Craftsman Farms Campus|
For many visitors, Craftsman Farms is primarily defined by the Log House, with a brief mention of the other buildings that formed the core of Stickley’s operations. Yet, from the first recorded deliveries of “carloads” of lumber in July 1908, the development of Craftsman Farms proceeded steadily to eventually encompass at least ten homes and barns that Stickley designed, numerous outbuildings, and the existing structures already present on the properties he purchased. Featuring new research on the chronology and development of Craftsman Farms, this session explores the built environment and provides interior views of the original buildings on our 30-acre property.
|3.3||Sat., July 25, 2020||Craftsman Farms Today: Highlights from the Collection|
While Stickley’s decision to relocate to Morris Plains, New Jersey represented a fresh canvas on which to record his dreams, his choice of furnishings suggests that sentiment and memory were equal in strength to the allure of the new. Rather than start over completely, Stickley blended the family’s possessions from Syracuse–including some made as his factory–with new, custom-made pieces designed to meet the requirements of his home. This session looks closely at some of the iconic pieces Stickley owned, some furniture he designed during his tenure at Craftsman Farms, and some great pieces from the Museum’s collection that illustrate the essential tenets of the philosophy of design he promoted in The Craftsman.
|3.4||Sat., Aug. 1, 2020||“A Cheerful, Hospitable Home for Our Friends“: The Craftsman Building in New York City|
When it opened in 1913, Stickley’s Craftsman Building in New York City must have seemed, at first glance, like an odd juxtaposition. Located in central Manhattan, it was a twelve-story building, a veritable department store, with fine Lenox China in the restaurant on the top floor, built by a man who promoted the value of country living, the simple life, and the restorative value of the handicrafts. Yet, in some ways, the Craftsman Building was a perfect reflection of Stickley’s broader goals, to disseminate his idealism and his products to a larger audience, to reform the look and practice of industrialism, and to reshape the manner in which the general public conceived of the home. This session explores the final chapter of Stickley’s career–the peak and fall of the Craftsman movement–by examining the many different facets of his business in the Craftsman Building.
JUNE 2020 series:
2. ICONS OF 20TH CENTURY DESIGN
The Arts and Crafts movement did not exist in a vacuum, nor was it a static and clearly-defined set of principles that could not respond to advances in art and design. Simply put, it was embedded within a broader conversation about art and life that influenced–and was influenced by–important contemporary designers.
Exploring the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, European Design at the turn of the Century, and Frank Lloyd Wight and the Prairie School, these four sessions help locate the Arts and Crafts movement in the broader context of its period by shedding light on these designers and exploring the connections between and within these styles.
|2.1||Sat., June 6||“Nature is always beautiful”: Louis Comfort Tiffany, American Art Glass, and the Cult of Nature |
While often discussed in the context of the Art Nouveau movement, Louis Comfort Tiffany developed an alternate approach to the decorative arts that relied less upon the swirling energy of the vine in favor of a luxurious interpretation of the natural world. Succinctly expressed in his oft-repeated dictum: “Nature is always right… Nature is always beautiful,” Tiffany assembled a talented team of designers, technicians, and craftspeople to execute this vision throughout his long career. This session focuses on Tiffany’s career, as well as his impact on the American art glass industry and his contemporaries.
|2.2||Sat., June 13||“Art considered in its Application to Life“: European Design in 1900|
With nearly 50 million visitors in 1900, the impact of the Paris Exposition of 1900 is difficult to overstate. For many, this was the first time to see the period’s major movements–Art Nouveau, the Arts and Crafts, and the Vienna Secessionists–displayed in a critical mass. With works from Hector Guimard, to Josef Hoffman, to the Bromsgrove Guild, the fair presented a carefully curated overview of modern decorative arts. Despite the superficial differences of style, critic Victor Champier correctly observed the common underlying impulse at the Exposition: “what we call Decorative Art is, in fact, nothing else than art considered in its application to life..”
|2.3||Sat., June 20||“To establish an Organic Integrity“: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School|
In hindsight, it is no wonder that Chicago gave rise to the distinctive American design aesthetic we call the Prairie School, for all of the ingredients were there: a devastating fire in 1871 that destroyed three square miles of the city, tremendous population growth in the following decades, and an embrace of modernity unencumbered by historical precedent. Epitomized by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, this session explores the Prairie School aesthetic through Wright’s interiors, those of his contemporaries like Niedecken, Maher, and Elmslie, as well as firms like Linden Glass and Giannini & Hilgart.
|2.4||Sat., June 27||Beyond the Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and American Modernism|
As quickly as his reputation had ascended in the first decades of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright’s star fell as modernism took hold in the United States. Having pioneered an architectural style that was viewed by many as quaint and decorative, Wright’s longevity was due, in part, to his ability to reinvent himself. Seeing the success of the younger generation in Europe, as well as the United States–seminal figures like Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, and Rudolf Schindler–who were advancing a more austere formal language, Wright responded, absorbed, and ultimately made this vocabulary his own. From Falling Water to the Guggenheim Museum and the posthumously-built Marin County Civic Center, this session explores the modernism of Wright and his contemporaries through their contributions to architecture and design.
APRIL – MAY 2020 series:
1. Living the Simple Life: The Arts and Crafts Movement at Home
On the back of his 1902 catalog Things Wrought by the United Crafts at Eastwood New York, Gustave Stickley proclaimed his allegiance to the ideals of William Morris by printing the following quote: “Simplicity is the one thing needful in furnishing, of that I am certain.” Like Stickley himself, many at the turn of the twentieth thought the idea of simplicity–a philosophy integral to the Arts and Crafts movement–could provide a means by which to keep the bustling and frantic pace of the modern world at bay, and to preserve core values of humanity in a rapidly industrializing society.
Dr. Jonathan Clancy examines the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement in England and the United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before delving into material-specific sessions that will familiarize participants with major figures in furniture, metalwork, and ceramics.
This course is for design and decorative arts enthusiasts, collectors, and anyone with an interest in Arts and Crafts style and ideals. Newcomers, casual fans and long-time aficionados are all welcome!
|1.1||April 4, 2020||The “Simple Life” Explained: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Context|
In hindsight, the simple life was a somewhat complicated proposition that required a mixture of lifestyle choices, philosophies, and furnishings to fully embrace. This lecture tracks the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement in England in the mid-nineteenth century to its subsequent embrace as an American movement. Although indebted to the English precedent that helped shaped the aesthetic direction of the Arts and Crafts, we will also explore how Americans were uniquely primed for its reception, through social experiments like the utopian community Brook Farm, to the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Walt Whitman amongst others. Using this lens, participants will learn to explore how these objects and their reception were shaped by these ideals, to think about the ways in which furniture, ceramics, and even architecture embody the cultural context of their time and deserve a careful and thorough reading.
|1.2||April 11, 2020||“In Defence of Fire“: The Pottery of the Arts and Crafts Movement|
This lecture explores the rise of Art Pottery in the United States, from its beginnings even before the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 to its full articulation as a product of the Arts and Crafts movement that embraced the notions of quietude and simplicity. Made by individual makers, large firms, and small workshops, the pottery of the Arts and Crafts movement displayed a diverse approach to the ideals of simplicity, handicraft, and individualism that reflected the broader tensions within the movement and larger society. The wares they made remind us that–much like today–there is no single solution to life’s problems, but that the joy in overcoming the issues we face in modern life are expressed in myriad ways.
|1.3||April 18, 2020||“By Hammer and Hand“: Arts and Crafts Metalwork|
Hammered into the living room fireplace hood at Gustav Stickley’s Log House at Craftsman Farms, the motto: “By Hammer and Hand Do All Things Stand” is a reminder of the importance of handicraft in the Arts and Crafts movement. That phrase–a rough approximation of the Blacksmith’s Guild in London’s motto–drew attention to the importance of metalwork in the home, the laborers who made these objects, and the main aesthetic (the hammered treatment of the surface) that many in this movement engaged. Surveying the metalwork of Stickley, the Roycrofters, Dirk Van Erp, and others, participants will begin to understand the regional variations within the movement and different approaches to the medium that practitioners applied.
|1.4||April 25, 2020||“Something to Foster Rugged Independence“: Furniture of the Arts and Crafts Movement|
Writing in The Craftsman in October 1902, Samuel Howe described “the severe furniture” made by the United Crafts as “something to foster rugged independence and masterful resolution, and to exhibit a resourcefulness greatly needed in these times.” This class examines the different ways that furniture makers and the forms they produced met the ideals of the movement and catered to the needs of modern consumers. In examining the works of Gustav Stickley, The Roycrofters, Byrdcliffe, Charles Rohlfs, and others, we better see a diversity of aesthetic approaches to the movement as well as different economic concerns of the makers.
|1.5||May 2, 2020||“A Feeling of Simplicity and Unstudied Freedom“: Lighting the Arts and Crafts Home|
“There is no question,” The Craftsman informed readers, “that of all the methods of lighting a house, electricity affords the greatest scope for decorative treatment, both in the arrangement of the lights themselves and in their effect upon the entire scheme of decoration.” This class provides an overview of the major makers of Arts and Crafts lighting–from Stickley, to Roycroft, to Van Erp and others–who succeeded in what providing homes with what Stickley called “a feeling of simplicity and unstudied freedom.”
|1.6||May 9, 2020||“Bold, Clear, and Distinguished“: A Closer Look at the Furniture of Gustav Stickley|
Describing the furniture of Stickley’s United Crafts in The Craftsman in October 1902, Samuel Howe described it as “bold, clear, and distinguished,” finding in it “a breezy independence, a sturdy human decency.” This class provides a closer look at Stickley’s furniture, focusing on his work between 1898 to his bankruptcy in 1917. More than simply a survey of Stickley’s work, this class also features new research that forces us to reconsider the names and dates presently associated with many of these objects.
|1.7||May 16, 2020||“The New Feeling for Form and Color“: Textiles and Accessories in the Craftsman Home|
Throughout the magazine’s history, Stickley used The Craftsman to demonstrate how textiles, floor coverings, and baskets could be used to bring a sense of warmth and cohesiveness to the interiors his firm designed and promoted. If the grammar of his Arts and Crafts furniture tended towards the rectilinear and plain, it was the accessories of the home that helped to enliven the space and broaden that language to bring include the natural world, Native American designs, and bright color in that environment. It was, as The Craftsman noted, “the new feeling for form and color” that tied together and completed the home.
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.