Following on from my previous experiments I wanted to firmly plant my work in the realm of art rather than craft but I was still unclear as to how to go about doing so and was hoping to narrow down the difficult subject of differentiating art from craft.
Through a TED talk by Laura Morelli I came to realise that the divide between art and craft had much earlier origins than the industrial revolution. Morelli reveals that “It wasn’t until about 1400 that people began to draw a line between art and craft and in Florence, Italy, a new cultural ideal which would later be called Renaissance Humanism was beginning to take form. Florentine intellectuals began to spread the idea of re-formulating classical Greek and Roman works while placing greater value on individual creativity than collective production. A few brave painters, who for many centuries had been paid by the square foot, successfully petitioned their patrons to pay them on the basis of merit instead. Within a single generation people’s attitudes about objects and their makers would shift dramatically such that in 1550 Giorgio Vasari……..published an influential book called ‘Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and Architects’ – elevating these types of creators to rock-star status by sharing juicy biographical details. In the mind of the public painting, sculpture and architecture were now considered art and their makers creative masterminds – Artists. Meanwhile, those who maintained guild traditions and faithfully produced candlesticks, ceramics, gold jewellery or wrought iron gates would be known communally as Artisans and their works considered minor or ‘decorative arts’ and their works connoting an inferior status and solidifying the distinction between art and craft that still exists in the western world” (TED-Ed, 2014).
It would appear the issue of the celebrity culture within art has been present much longer; and whilst this is of great significance for establishing the importance of art I do feel that talent and superiority had perhaps been sold ‘sold’ for gossip and tittle-tattle. With this in mind I do wonder if society would be so quick to revert to pre-1400 categorisation as it was to change it in the first instance. I feel that with both art and craft having evolved dramatically independently of one another that marrying up art and craft again could prove problematic.
For me, I feel that a good defining factor to wether an object is art or craft is deeply routed in the level of human qualities personified within the object or even projected onto it. “Artwork is not completely useless, nor is its only function its beauty” (LaNoue, 2011). The function of art is fluid and malleable, its purpose ranging from documentation of events to political campaigns.
Craft on the other hand “is functional, yes. And it can be exceptionally well-rendered, but ultimately it lacks the importance, the impact, and/or the emotional currency of art. An artisan who creates a basket has only made a basket. An artisan who creates a basket and who tries to make itmore than just a basket, who attempts to elevate it to the realm of fine art, may or may not be successful, but that artisan might then be considered an artist based on their success. Furthermore, they may need to sacrifice the functionality of their basket to achieve their goal of fine art” (LaNoue, 2011). LaNoue’s definition of each respectively is one of the few views thus far that I agree with, craft is created with a fixed purpose – it cannot exceed those. Art is much more ‘user friendly’, art can be projected onto by the viewer and its purpose changed. The viewer can identify with art and appropriate its meaning or intent to be more in line with the viewers own experiences or emotions. Art is, in many ways, like a mirror.
With this in mind I returned back to the studio. In order to complete my goal of having my sculptural work echo the aesthetic qualities of my drawings I set about drawing potential sculpture pieces as pictured below. I used various methods of mark making from straight forward drawing to drawing with my eyes closed or drawing with the wrong hand.
I felt that the most successful of those was the initial drawing, that was the one I was most happy with however that is also the least free of the four drawings. Perhaps I need to find a way to become more free with my work.
The drawing, I felt, transferred highly effectively to the sculptural work with the 3D printing pen. The legs and body in particular have a definite sketchy quality.
I am still unsure as to how I feel about the wings, I have moved away from the decorative “craft-like” (whatever that means!) aesthetic of the wings; instead trying to retain a fragile delicacy yet retaining a definite “skin” on the wing – these I feel are not totally successful due to them looking rather like they are suffering from electric shock.
Further investigation continues.
LaNoue, M. (2011) Fine art versus craft: Is there a difference? Available at: https://www.quora.com/Fine-art-versus-craft-is-there-a-difference (Accessed: 29 July 2016).
TED-Ed (2014) Is there a difference between art and craft? – Laura Morelli. Available at: https://youtu.be/tVdw60eCnJI (Accessed: 29 July 2016).