A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression [NOOK Book]

Overview

What is craft? How is it different from fine art or design? In A Theory of Craft, Howard Risatti examines these issues by comparing handmade ceramics, glass, metalwork, weaving, and furniture to painting, sculpture, photography, and machine-made design from Bauhaus to the Memphis Group. He describes craft's unique qualities as functionality combined with an ability to express human values that transcend temporal, spatial, and social boundaries....
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A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression

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Overview

What is craft? How is it different from fine art or design? In A Theory of Craft, Howard Risatti examines these issues by comparing handmade ceramics, glass, metalwork, weaving, and furniture to painting, sculpture, photography, and machine-made design from Bauhaus to the Memphis Group. He describes craft's unique qualities as functionality combined with an ability to express human values that transcend temporal, spatial, and social boundaries.

Modern design today has taken over from craft the making of functional objects of daily use by employing machines to do work once done by hand. Understanding the aesthetic and social implications of this transformation forces us to see craft as well as design and fine art in a new perspective, Risatti argues. Without a way of understanding and valuing craft on its own terms, the field languishes aesthetically, being judged by fine art criteria that automatically deny art status to craft objects. Craft must articulate a role for itself in contemporary society, says Risatti; otherwise it will be absorbed by fine art or design and its singular approach to understanding the world will be lost. A Theory of Craft is a signal contribution to establishing a craft theory that recognizes, defines, and celebrates the unique blend of function and human aesthetic values embodied in the craft object.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This scholarly work lays out reasons for the historical dichotomy in Western philosophy between fine art and craft. Risatti (art history, emeritus, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.; Postmodern Perspectives: Issues in Contemporary Art) argues that aesthetic standards for craft separate from those of the traditional fine arts are necessary for craft to receive the status it deserves in the art community. He points out that non-Western traditional societies don't make such distinctions and that their artwork is a functioning part of daily life. Since fine craftworks in the marketplace now approach the prices paid for fine art, this is a problem that may be solving itself. Suitable for academic art libraries.


—Constance Ashmore Fairchild
From the Publisher
Destined to become required reading for undergraduate and graduate courses in art and craft history. . . . A book worth waiting for.—Ceramics Monthly

Howard Risatti offers a very palatable narrative in A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression. Risatti dives headfirst into the craft versus art and design argument, peeling back the layers to understand the most basic definitions, functions and history of craft.—Arts Reader

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807889077
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Howard Risatti is professor emeritus of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University. His four previous books include Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery and Postmodern Perspectives: Issues in Contemporary Art.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   Kenneth R. Trapp     xi
Preface     xiii
Introduction     1
Practical-Functional Arts and the Uniqueness of Craft: Questions about Terminology     13
Purpose, Use, and Function     23
Taxonomy of Craft Based on Applied Function     29
Different Applied Functions: Tools and Craft Objects     41
Comparing Machines, Tools, and Craft Objects     48
Purpose and Physiological Necessity in Craft     54
Nature and the Origin of Craft Objects     60
Craft and Fine Art     67
What Are the Fine Arts and What Do They Do?     71
Social Convention versus Physical Necessity     78
Craft, Fine Art, and Nature     87
Technical Knowledge and Technical Manual Skill     98
Hand and Body in Relation to Craft     108
Hand and Body in Relation to Fine Art     116
Physicality versus Opticality     127
Thingness of the Thing     139
Issues of Craft and Design     151
Material and Manual Skill     157
Design, Workmanship, and Craftsmanship     162
Craftsman versus Designer     171
Implications of Craft and Design     182
Hand,Machine, and Material     194
Aesthetic Objects and Aesthetic Images     207
A Historical Perspective of Craft and Aesthetic Theory     209
Aesthetics and the Function/Nonfunction Dichotomy     219
Kant and Purpose in Fine Art     232
Fine Craft, Fine Art, Fine Design     239
Intentionality, Meaning, and the Aesthetic     251
Beauty, Contemplation, and the Aesthetic Dimension     262
How Aesthetic Contemplation Operates     273
Development of the Critical Objects of Studio Craft     281
Postscript     303
Bibliography     307
Index     317
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