Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago

Having seen a proof of the catalogue, I can’t say enough good things about Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago, which opens on 7 November at the Art Institute of Chicago. The press release only tells half the story:

This is the first Arts and Crafts exhibition mounted at the Institute in more than 30 years, and it’s worth the wait. You’d Apostles of Beauty presents designs by the movement’s most notable practitioners, from William Morris and Charles Robert Ashbee to Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. Highlighting a wide range of objects, including ceramics, furniture, metalwork, paintings, photographs, and textiles, the exhibition offers the chance for a large audience to see some of Chicago’s spectacular holdings with works from the Art Institute, the Smart Museum, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Crab Tree Farm, and other private and public collections. The exhibition traces the history of the Arts and Crafts movement through its complex stylistic and philosophical influences. Galleries explore the movement’s early roots in Britain and the impact of William Morris and his group on the next generation of architect-designers; its intersection with the phenomenon of Japanism in both British and American design; the development of American Arts and Crafts style and its popularization through specialized periodicals; the connections between the movement’s philosophies and pictorialism in photography; and Chicago’s early acceptance of the British model and its later role in uniting hand and machine in the service of beauty

What they don’t say is how wonderful the objects are. One would expect that Wright and Sullivan would be well represented (after all, this is Chicago) but the British work could make you think you are in the V. and A. In a sense, this exhibition builds on last year’s show at Northwestern University (some of the lenders and items are repeats), but the curatorial thinking is less dogmatic and the concept more wide-ranging. Very much recommended; note that this is not a traveling exhibition—just one venue. if you ever needed an excuse to visit the United States “second city” this is it. For more information click the link above or go to the Art Institute of Chicago’s web site,

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