The Arts and Crafts Movement from England to the United States
January 14, 2009
Department Head and Curator, Decorative Arts and Design
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
John Ruskin and William Morris—two key figures in the birth of the Arts and Crafts movement—may have never stepped foot on American soil, but their ideas became the foundation for a radical reform in American design.
Ms. Kaplan will explore the Arts and Crafts movement from its British roots to its distinctly American manifestations in her upcoming lecture “The Arts and Crafts Movement from England to the United States.”
Though the American Arts and Crafts movement was propelled by the writings and fundamental philosophies of Morris and Ruskin, it also adapted certain ideals and aesthetics in the process. One example Ms. Kaplan cites is the concept of “democratic design,” a term used around 1900 to describe objects made for a broad audience with an eye toward simple design and good craftsmanship. American companies, such as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops, embraced technological innovation and “rational use” of machines in production.
Ms. Kaplan is a leading authority on the Arts and Crafts, and the is editor, author or co-author of several books on the subject, including The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America: Design for the Modern World, (London and New York: LACMA and Thames and Hudson, 2004) The Arts and Crafts Movement (with Elizabeth Cumming; London and New York, Thames and Hudson, 1991). In 2004 she was the coordinating curator for the LACMA exhibition “The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America: Design for the Modern World.” She is currently co-organizing the exhibition “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way,” scheduled to open at LACMA in 2011. She has also contributed to exhibition catalogues for museums—including The Tiffany Chapel at the Morse Museum—and books for university presses both in Europe and the United States, including the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; the Irish Academic Press; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; and Yale University Press.
She has received many fellowships, most notably the Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, and has twice received the George Wittenborn Memorial Award given by the Art Libraries Society of North America. Before joining the Los Angeles museum, Ms. Kaplan was associate director for exhibitions and curatorial affairs at The Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in Early American Material Culture at the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum. A longtime friend of the Morse, Ms. Kaplan last lectured here in 2004.