Beginning around 1880 and continuing into the twentieth century, the arts and crafts movement was a reform movement that resulted from the pre-Raphaelite movement. The ideology of the arts and crafts movement was a reaction to the consequences of the industrial revolution. Followers of the movement feared the deconstruction of moral and material values that resulted from the social and aesthetic impact of mechanization and urbanization, believing that the abundance of labourers and progressive reproduction technology undermined the creative integrity of the design process.
The movement has its roots in the works of architect and designer Augustus Welby Pugin and the Victorian artist John Ruskin. Other figures, like William Morris, explored similar ideas related to the arts and crafts movement in their writings and design work. Charles Robert Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft was one of several Art Workers’ Guilds where groups of craftsmen could work collaboratively to produce products and art.
Some aspects of the arts and crafts movement overlapped with aestheticism, but the tension between aestheticism and the arts and crafts movement was the rift between their values for art. For aestheticism, art did not have a functionality other than to provide aesthetic satisfaction. Contrastingly, the arts and crafts movement believed in the functionality of art. In a way, the arts and crafts movement saw art as an aesthetic object that can also exist with practical function.
The combination of art as an object of both beauty and function allowed the movement to spark social reform around the increased mechanical reproduction of products. Arts and crafts encouraged handmade products and production in order to combat the growing standardization of mechanically-reproduced products. Despite encouraging a regression in reproduction technology, the movement assisted in developing many values of early modernism: the relationship between art and the lived experience, reverence for the quality of materials, utility, structure over surface ornament, democratization of art, and an interest in nature.
Morgan, Ann Lee. “Arts and Crafts movement.” The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists. : Oxford University Press, , 2018. Oxford Reference. Date Accessed 21 Sep. 2020 <https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780191807671.001.0001/acref-9780191807671-e-59>.
Woodham, Jonathan. “Arts and Crafts Movement.” A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press, , 2016. Oxford Reference. Date Accessed 21 Sep. 2020 <https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-68>.