Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement
September 1, 2010
First National Tour Exhibition of the Work of Gustav Stickley
Premieres at the Newark Museum, September 15, 2010
Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement Highlights Stickley's Most Creative and Productive Period, 1900 to 1913
Newark, NJ -- Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement, the first nationally touring exhibition to offer a comprehensive examination of the work of Gustav Stickley, considered by many to be the patriarch of the movement, will have its premiere at the Newark Museum, September 15.
Organized by the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), the exhibition examines Stickley's contributions to the American Arts and Crafts movement during his most productive and creative period, from 1900 to 1913. Ranging from furniture to metalware to embroidered textiles, the majority of the objects on view are from private collections and three-quarters have never been seen before by the public.
Curated by Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art, the exhibition provides new insights into the artistic, commercial, and social context of Stickley's entry into the Arts and Crafts realm, the ideological development of his enterprise and the formation of the Craftsman home and lifestyle. It also illuminates the vibrant identity of the "Craftsman" that Stickley developed and furthered through the creation and promotion of his furniture and household goods. A major highlight of the exhibition is the re-creation of a dining room arranged and furnished by Stickley that was originally designed for his 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition in Syracuse, New York.
The premiere at the Newark Museum, which coincides with the 100th birthday of Stickley's home, Craftsman Farms, in Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, runs from September 15, 2010, to January 2, 2011. The exhibition then moves to the Dallas Museum of Art on February 13, 2011, and to the San Diego Museum of Art on June 18, 2011.
Newark Museum Programs and Activities
A series of special programs has been scheduled by the Newark Museum in conjunction with the national Stickley exhibition premiere including a fascinating exploration of the Arts & Crafts Movement and Stickley's work by Joseph Cunningham, Curator, American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation; Newark Museum Senior Curator Ulysses Grant Dietz, and Kevin W. Tucker, Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Art and Design, DMA. The program, Honest and Beautiful: Gustav Stickley and the Arts & Crafts Home in America, is Saturday, October 16, from 10am to 2:30pm.
Other exhibition-linked programs include curator-led tours, an arts & crafts workshop and a tour of historic Craftsman Farms. Complete program information may be found on the Newark Museum website: newarkmuseum.org
Stickley (1858-1942) was one of the leading figures in the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Stickley, unlike his predecessors in the English movement, began his career as a furniture factory owner, and only began to discover the precepts and stylings of the movement in the late 1890s. Balancing the core principles of the movement, with its emphasis upon the functional and handmade, and integrating it within a factory production system, Stickley's firm made Arts and Crafts furniture, metalwork, and textiles widely available at a reasonable cost through retailers across the United States. Between 1900 and 1913, his most creative period and the era that is the focus of the exhibition, Stickley published The Craftsman magazine (1901-1916), which became a leading national journal of the movement's ideals.
The exhibition includes more than 100 works produced by Stickley's designers and workshops, including furniture, metalwork, lighting, and textiles, along with architectural drawings and related designs. One of the exhibition's highlights is the recreation of the dining room first displayed in the 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition organized by Stickley and exhibited in his Syracuse Craftsman Building. The model dining room was a sensation, attracting the attention and admiration of many visitors. A period photograph of the original room corroborates the acclaim, showing a beautifully orchestrated setting that includes oak and burlap wall coverings, a Donegal carpet with stylized floral motifs, and refined Grueby Pottery vessels on the table and sideboard. One of the masterpieces on display in the re-creation will be a linen chest, now part of the DMA's collections, made especially for the room, along with a selection of related furnishings that have not been reunited since 1903. The massive linen chest with its low profile, refined lines, and simple wrought-iron fittings is a stunning example of Stickley's designers at the height of their creative powers.
About Gustav Stickley
Born in 1858 in Osceola, Wisconsin, Gustav Stickley was a leading figure of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Apprenticed as a stone mason as a young man, Stickley moved as a teenager with his family to Pennsylvania, where he began to learn furniture making at his uncle's chair factory. In 1888 he partnered with Elgin Simonds to form the Stickley & Simonds Company. A decade later-following his travels to Europe, where he was exposed to progressive furniture designs, including those produced by Liberty of London-Stickley assumed control of the firm, renaming it the Gustave Stickley Company. In 1901, the year following his introduction of a new line of Arts and Crafts furniture, the firm was renamed the United Crafts. It was renamed again as Craftsman Workshops in 1903, with the expansion into metalwork, textiles, and home design, and remained so until its dissolution in 1916.
Stickley's innovative and affordable wares quickly earned him critical and commercial success. His firm's designs were exhibited at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and included in a pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, where they were seen by thousands of fairgoers. Stickley's retail network, which eventually included over 100 stores across the United States, sold thousands of pieces of furniture each year, popularizing Stickley's creations as exemplars of the Arts and Crafts movement; however, by 1915 he was unable to maintain the successes of his prior years, and the firm entered bankruptcy. Following a brief and unsuccessful collaboration with his brothers, he retired from the furniture industry. Stickley died in 1942 in Syracuse, New York.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated 272-page catalogue, Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement, written by Tucker, with essays and contributions by Beverly K. Brandt, David Cathers, Joseph Cunningham, and Beth Ann and Tommy McPherson and an introduction by Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Publication of the exhibition catalogue is underwritten by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Two Red Roses Foundation is pleased to participate in this world class endeavor and has agreed to lend seven of its most important objects by Gustav Stickley. The objects are:
Library Table No. 653, C. 1904, Oak
Chair No. 352, c. 1904, Oak with rush
Six Light Electric Lamp No. 755, c. 1910
Poppy Table No. 26, c. 1900, Oak
Cigar Box, Copper, oak, and leather
All-Wood Panel Screen No. 84, c. 1919-19
Andirons No. 348, c. 1905, Iron and copper