ArtLex Art Dictionary



ccraft - Technical skill, manual dexterity, considered apart from the fine arts, or from the cerebral, expressive, or aesthetic aspects of them. Also, any of the manual activities performed by artisans or craftpeople, as distinguished from the specific group of techniques that are practiced by artists in the making of fine art.

There have been tensions resulting from differentiations between art and craft, especially since the rise of mechanization in the industrial era. Support for the notion of craft has been undercut. However, there have been certain revivals and other movements which have served to counterbalance this trend. Among these are the Arts and Crafts Movement which countered manufactured goods, De Stijl, which aimed to integrate fine and applied arts, and the Bauhaus, which incorporated industrial design. Crafts enjoyed another resurgence in the 1950s and 60s, when many artists sought inspiration from tribal and folk art, and revived older techniques.

The word "craft" once denoted a functional or decorative object — like a piece of furniture, a vessel, a textile wall hanging or a piece of jewelry — made by hand by a highly trained artisan. But the term's associations with a glut of amateurish productions (think crocheted Kleenex-box-holders and pots of artificial flowers) has tended to reduce the power of its associations with works of highest quality. One indicator of this trend is that several museums and schools in the United States, which are justly proud of their involvement with fine crafts, have removed or reduced the prominence of "craft" in the names of their institutions. In 2002, the American Craft Museum, New York, became the Museum of Arts & Design (although its domain name remains In 2003, the California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco, renamed itself the California College of the Arts.

Also see artist, basketry, ceramics, collectible, design, faux, Index of American Design, macramé, marbling, masterpiece, mystery, and raffia.






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