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United States Arts and Crafts

In the United States, the Arts and Crafts Movement took on a distinctively more bourgeois flavor. While the European movement tried to recreate the virtuous world of craft labor that was being destroyed by industrialization, Americans tried to establish a new source of virtue to replace heroic craft production: the tasteful middle-class home. They thought that the simple but refined aesthetics of Arts and Crafts decorative arts would ennoble the new experience of industrial consumerism, making individuals more rational and society more harmonious. In short, the American Arts and Crafts Movement was the aesthetic counterpart of its contemporary political movement: Progressivism.

In the United States, the Arts and Crafts Movement spawned a wide variety of attempts to reinterpret European Arts and Crafts ideals for Americans. These included the “Craftsman”-style architecture, furniture, and other decorative arts such as the designs promoted by Gustav Stickley in his magazine, The Craftsman. A host of imitators of Stickley’s furniture (the designs of which are often mislabeled the “Mission Style”) included three companies formed by his brothers, the Roycroft community founded by Elbert Hubbard, the “Prairie School” of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Country Day School movement, the bungalow style of houses popularized by Greene and Greene, utopian communities like Byrdcliffe and Rose Valley, and the contemporary studio craft movement. Studio pottery — exemplified by Grueby, Newcomb, Teco, Overbeck and Rookwood pottery, Bernard Leach in Britain, and Mary Chase Perry Stratton’s Pewabic Pottery in Detroit — as well as the art tiles by Ernest A. Batchelder in Pasadena, California, and idiosyncratic furniture of Charles Rohlfs also demonstrate the clear influence of Arts and Crafts Movement. Mission, Prairie, and the California Craftsman styles of homebuilding remain tremendously popular in the United States today

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