Skip to main content

Arts and Crafts through Chicago eyes

The Art Institute of Chicago has organized a major exhibition that, for the first time, traces the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain through its manifestation in Chicago.

David Boyle used hornbeam, walnut, poplar, lilac and maple for his "Home from the Sea," which is on display at the Maine Wood 2010 exhibition.

{loadposition position10}

"Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago" presents nearly 190 examples by the movement's British originators, such as William Morris, Elbert Hubbard and Charles Robert Ashbee, as well as its greatest American practitioners, including Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibition highlights a wide range of objects that encompasses furniture, metalwork, ceramics, paintings, photographs and textiles.

With a strong emphasis on Chicago's absorption and interpretation of the movement, "Apostles of Beauty" draws deep on Chicago's rich collections of Arts and Crafts objects, featuring works from the University of Chicago, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Crab Tree Farm, private collections and the Art Institute's own permanent collection. This is the first Arts and Crafts exhibition mounted at the Art Institute in more than 30 years.

"Chicago, as the home of such architects and designers as Frank Lloyd Wright, is justly proud of its contributions to one of the most politically progressive and aesthetically compelling artistic movements of modern times," says Judith Barter, exhibition curator, in an Art Institute release. " 'Apostles of Beauty' is intended to place the work of such figures in the full philosophical, political, and artistic context of the Arts and Crafts movement as it developed in Britain, tracing direct links across the Atlantic to the flowering of Arts and Crafts in the East and West Coasts, and specifically in Chicago. No other city has such a wealth of art from this period and we are pleased to exhibit here works from private collections rarely shown before that show the reach, depth and aspirations of the movement."

"Apostles of Beauty" Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago" featurs nearly 190 pieces, including this 1901 oak and leather armchair by Gustav Stickley.

Other notable pieces of furniture displayed in the exhibition include a Spindle Cube Chair made of poplar and leather from Lloyd Wright and an early 20th-century tall clock designed by George Grant Elmslie of Purcell, Feick and Elmslie, manufactured by Niedecken-Walbridge of Milwaukee.

"Apostles of Beauty" offers one of the most comprehensive presentations of the Arts and Crafts movement ever mounted and can be viewed at the Art Institute's Regenstein Hall through Jan. 31.

Made in Maine

Maine Wood 2010 opened Dec. 4 at the Messler Gallery at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockland, Maine, with a public reception and ceremony where more than $2,000 in prizes were awarded.

This year's show includes 16 furniture makers and sculptors, including David Boyle, Gregory W. Crispell, Philippe Guillerm, Wayne Hall, Lou Landry, Matthew Lindsay, Gregg Lipton, Lin Lisberger, James Macdonald, Conger Murray, Jack Rodie, Libby Schrum, Chris Steiner, David Talley, Peter G. Thompson, and John Van Dis.

"If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself," is a whimsical piece by Phillipe Guillern and part of the Maine Wood 2010 exhibition.

Guillerm is a furniture maker, sculptor, painter, muralist and author who was born in Paris, traveled around the world for 20 years in his 48-foot boat and now resides in Rockland, Maine. His works have been exhibited in galleries in Europe, South America, the Pacific Islands, France, Canada and the United States.

Guillerm's piece, "If You Want Something Done Right, Do it Yourself," is one of his series of humorous violin sculptures in wood.

"I like to give my violins some human attitudes," Guillerm says. "[My piece] is a violin tired of waiting for someone to play it or it is tired of playing the same piece, so it decided to play on its own. I love surrealism and all my sculptures are surrealistic with different interpretations depending on the person that looks at it. I do not play the violin, I play with the violin!

"Humor is certainly what I look for in everything around me. It makes me see life in another perspective. I love to laugh and make people smile through my sculptures and books. It is something that just makes my day."

The exhibition will be on view until Feb. 12, at which point it will travel to the Center for Maine Craft in Gardiner, Maine, where it will be on display from Feb. 22 through April 30.


Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603-6404. Tel: 312-443-3600.

Messler Gallery, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 25 Mill St., Rockport, ME 04856. Tel: 207-594-5611.

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue.

Related Articles