Published: January 2, 2007
“One of a Kind: The Studio Craft Movement,” on view through September 3, features approximately 50 works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and includes furniture, ceramics, glass, metalwork, jewelry and fiber. Many of these works have never been on view at the Metropolitan before, and several are recent acquisitions by the museum.
The studio craft movement developed in the United States during the years after World War II and has flourished internationally over the past 40 years. During this period, craft artists have experimented with nontraditional materials and new techniques, producing bold, abstract and sculptural art, as well as continuing to make utilitarian objects.
“One of a Kind” shows works by 47 artists, including such established figures as Ruth Duckworth, Ken Price, Robert Arneson, Ed Rossbach, Albert Paley and Wharton Esherick as well as younger artists such as Kyung-hee Hong, Axel Russmeyer and Bonnie Seeman. The exhibition is in the museum’s Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, Design and Architecture Gallery.
In the studio craft movement, artists are directly involved in the actual process of making the object, not just conception and design. The handmade “woven walls” of Olga de Amaral (b 1932) are notable for their technical finesse and their references to the artist’s native Colombia. In her intricate tapestry of silver leaf, the richly embellished ultramarine blue and silver strips are reminiscent of the rivers and waterfalls of her country.
Contemporary craft and the Japanese decorative art tradition are bridged in the work of Kyohei Fujita (Japanese, 1921–2004). Fujita’s striking use of color and contrasting metallic inclusions relate to the lacquer boxes (casuri bako) that are part of the Japanese tea ceremony, yet the abstract pattern and simple form is unmistakably modern.
Studio craft works are often distinguished for their sense of humor and their provocative forms. The chests and cabinets of John Cederquist (American, b. 1946) combine playful trompe l’oeil with traditional craftsmanship that is both contemporary and functional. The carefully constructed veneers of his furniture create the appearance of a three-dimensional surface that conceals the birch plywood substructure.
Bonnie Seeman (American, b. 1969) evokes the naturalistic vegetable forms of mid Eighteenth Century British ceramic manufacturers with her bright porcelain coffeepot. The artist plays with contemporary themes of attraction and repulsion through forms that first appear to represent rhubarb and cabbage leaves, but, on closer look, suggests human tissue and bone.
“One of a Kind” is organized by Jane Adlin, associate curator in the Metropolitan’s department of Nineteenth Century, modern and contemporary art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is at 1000 Fifth Avenue. For information, 212-535-7710 or www.metmuseum.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm