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Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement

May 04, 2011

The San Diego Museum of Art  6/18–9/11/11

From the famed Marston House in Balboa Park to the one-room bungalow in Mission Hills, San Diego boasts some of the finest examples of homes built in the American Arts and Crafts Style. This new exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art surveys the production of one of its greatest figures, Gustav Stickley, with a selection of over 100 objects, the majority of which are on public display for the very first time.

Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement focuses on Stickley’s most productive and creative period, 1900–1913, when his magazine, The Craftsman, and East Coast stores helped to shape a major trend in early 20th-century decorative arts that emphasized quality materials and craftsmanship.

His progressive vision of design, as adopted from 19th-century English designers John Ruskin and William Morris, replaced the conspicuous consumption of Victorian-era style with notions of an honest and beautiful simplicity as hallmarks of an ideal American home.

The exhibition brings together a wide range of furniture, metalwork, textiles, lighting, and architectural drawings to show the evolution of Stickley’s vision. Among the highlights are the re-creation of a complete dining room that was first displayed at the 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition, organized by Stickley, and an armoire Stickley kept for his own personal use.

Taken as a whole, the exhibition provides insights into the social and commercial context in which Stickley successfully adapted his philosophy of simplicity, functionalism, and hand-craftsmanship to the factory production techniques of his workshops.