japonisme: guilding the lily

05 July 2008

guilding the lily

dorothy markert is a roycroft printmaker. the arts and crafts movement with its various names: mackintosh-style, liberty-style, and werkstatte-style among them, needs to have roycroft-style added to it.

to look at a clock designed by archibald knox, or mackintosh, or josef hoffmann, is to immediately recognize the single river running through the artisan guilds of the world; it is also to recognize the influence of japan on them all.

"Roycroft was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the USA. Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895 in the village of East Aurora, Erie County, New York, near Buffalo. Participants were known as Roycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century.

The name Roycroft was chosen after the printers, Samuel and Thomas Roycroft, who made books in London from about 1650-1690. And beyond this, the word roycroft had a special significance to Elbert Hubbard, meaning King's Craft. King's craftsmen being a term used in the Guilds of the olden times for men who had achieved a high degree of skill -- men who made things for the King.

Elbert Hubbard's championing of the Arts and Crafts approach attracted a number of visiting craftspeople to East Aurora, and they formed a community of printers, furniture makers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths, and bookbinders."1

wonderfully for us all, guilds are reforming all over the world, including at roycroft. over the last several decades, the original roycroft buildings have been restored, and well, if you build it they will come. a community of craftspeople, artisans, have come together again, with a commitment to quality -- a commitment backed up with a peer review before one may use the roycroft mark on their work, and teach master classes on the campus.

and this is where we find dorothy markert. to browse her work, one instantly recalls margaret jordan patterson, edna boies hopkins, mable royds... but these are dorothy's alone. she brings what any artist brings: work that speaks from that place where hand and eye and heart meet.

there are many "craftspeople" in these days when we again appreciate the work of human hands over machines, but there are many of them from whom little original emerges. when they produce direct copies of the work of others and try to pass it off as their own, and a surprising number of people actually do this, the work may be charming, but is somehow hollow and leaden at the same time. perhaps dorothy took a master class of her own from the great legacy of the last century, but what she creates now, along with the other artisans on the roycroft campus, is art.


Anonymous harlequinpan said...

Wonderful colors and style.

06 July, 2008 03:18  
Blogger Sandy Starks said...

Dorothy is an amazing artist and wonderful teacher too!. Look at her website to see examples of her other work.


06 July, 2008 08:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this blog when I researched the Japanese influence on Arthur Wesley Dao and Frank Lloyd Wright. I have looked at it every day since. I am amazed at the knowledge and the wonderful images you present. Thank you.

06 July, 2008 08:14  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you sandy--i had meant to do that of course and it slipped through... i've now fixed it.

and dorothy--thank you so much. every day brings a new discovery, and yesterday i discovered you.

06 July, 2008 11:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to type Arthur Wesley Dow.

He found his inspiration in 1891 at the Boston Public Library, in a book of Hokusai prints. "One evening with Hokusai," Dow wrote to his wife, "gave me more light on composition and decorative effect than years of study of pictures. I surely ought to compose in an entirely different manner and paint better."

I find this blog to be a similar inspiration.

06 July, 2008 17:23  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you, dorothy. i knew you meant dow, but i thought maybe you were making a particularly witty comment on "the dao."

that's a wonderful quote.

06 July, 2008 17:48  
Blogger cbb said...

What a lovely, hopeful thing to think that some of those old arts communities like Roycroft might be reborn. I've often wondered if there is an idle artist in me that would have been very happy to just live in some quiet studio life... not that I have any talent in that direction, but I might have learned a skill of some sort (I seem to like repairing art, for instance).

On another note, I have a print reproduction made in France of Gustave Baumann's Pinyon Grand Canyon that is so perfectly made I thought surely it must be an original. It suddenly occurred to me that there is truly an art to good reproduction, as well...

08 July, 2008 23:12  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

hmmmm interesting. the person mentioned in the next post used to "do" gustave baumanns as well; those, and the work of several others, aren't there any more.

i remember a day back in the mid-ninties, i think, when i was walking down a street in marin county and i stopped with a thrill. an antique store was selling posters of the work of gustave baumann.

why should that give me such a start? because it was, at that time, practi9cally impossible to find anything from any printmaker of that time. nobody had ever heard of any of them.

isn't it cool how much that has changed?

09 July, 2008 10:32  

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