Architects, sculptors, painters, we all must return to the crafts! For art is not a 'profession.' There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman.
- Walter Gropius.
I guess if you are the head of the Bauhaus you can say things like this without angering the crowd.
The elevation of the individual artist in society is a relatively recent Western invention. During the middle ages in Europe, the term artisan simply described workers that achieved a level of mastery in their trade. The wealthy commissioned works and they were less likely to be signed.
Today the words artist, artisan and craftsperson have unique meanings for all of us. We sometimes use the term "fine art or fine artist" to differentiate the craftsperson and the artist. For many the term Artisan and Craftsperson are synonyms. For Walter Gropius, they are all synonyms. How we value beauty, creativity, individuality, and utility alters the meaning of these words for each of us.
The Japanese philosopher and art critic Soetsu Yanagi challenges the "Fine Art" works or what he calls "Bourgeois art" to stand on their own merit without the attachment of a famous name and often finds them wanting or inferior to their more modest counterparts.
I find myself both attracted to and repelled by the struggle for liberty and individualism that are defining American values. I respect the wisdom of our founding fathers. If we can just keep the "all men are created equal" part in mind long enough to push back the rising tide of egos, maybe we'll have a chance at producing good work, flourishing as a nation and surviving as a species.
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