Thinking through Craft
Co-published in Association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This book is a timely and engaging introduction to the way that artists working in all media think about craft. Workmanship is key to today's visual arts, when high ‘production values' are becoming increasingly commonplace. Yet craft's centrality to contemporary art has received little serious attention from critics and historians.
Dispensing with clichéd arguments that craft is art, Adamson persuasively makes a case for defining craft in a more nuanced fashion. The interesting thing about craft, he argues, is that it is perceived to be 'inferior' to art. The book consists of an overview of various aspects of this second-class identity - supplementarity, sensuality, skill, the pastoral, and the amateur. It also provides historical case studies analysing craft's role in a variety of disciplines, including architecture, design, contemporary art, and the crafts themselves. Thinking Through Craft will be essential reading for anyone interested in craft or the broader visual arts.
Glenn Adamson is Deputy Head of Research and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he leads a graduate program in the History of Design. He holds degrees in Art History from Cornell University (BA) and from Yale University (PhD).
Dr. Adamson was previously curator at the Chipstone Foundation, and in that capacity prepared exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum and taught Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the co-editor (with Tanya Harrod and Edward S. Cooke, Jr.) of the Journal of Modern Craft, the only academic journal in the subject area, which will launch in March 2008.
Chapter 1: Supplemental
"Homage to Brancusi"
Wearable Sculptures: Modern Jewelry and the Problem of Autonomy
Reframing the Pattern and Decoration Movement
Chapter 2: Sensual
Ceramic Presence: Peter Voulkos
The Essence of Clay: Yagi Kazuo
The Materialization of the Art Object, 1966-72
Chapter 3. Skilled
Learning by Doing: Teaching Modern Craft
Thinking in Situations: Josef Albers
Learning Architecture: Charles Jencks and Kenneth Frampton
Chapter 4: Pastoral
Two Versions of Pastoral
North, South, East, West
Chapter 5: Amateur
"The World's Most Fascinating Hobby": Robert Arneson
Feminism and the Politics of Amateurism
Abject Craft: Mike Kelley and Tracey Emin
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224pp, 44 b&w and 16 colour illustrations, biblio, index
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|'At a time when technical skill has been widely dismissed or outsourced in the production of art, Glenn Adamson crucially adds an entire spectrum of hand-crafted objects to the creative history of the post-war era. And at a time when theoretical frameworks have stagnated, these objects, in his hands, bring with them a fresh and sophisticated set of interpretive perspectives.'|
Thomas Crow, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University