A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression

A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression

by Howard Risatti

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A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression by Howard Risatti

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 as uniquely blending function with a deeper expression of human values that transcend culture, time, and space. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807889077
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/15/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,185,575
File size: 5 MB

About 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.

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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From the Publisher

This book is notable for its logically progressive and rigorously philosophical development of a general theory of craft. In arguing his case, Risatti draws upon an extensive knowledge of aesthetics. A Theory of Craft sets an excellent precedent for future research in the field.—Glen R. Brown, Kansas State University

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