Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/418

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The Significance of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

DURING the last century the productive powers of man were multiplied many times by the utilization of the energy of coal and water through the agency of steam and electricity. As a result the human race has been lifted from a condition of struggle for the necessities of life to a higher plane of material comfort. With the increase of material wealth has been ushered in the new spirit of democracy. Leisure, culture, education, art and work are now conceived to be the birthright of all. Universal education and culture has heretofore been impossible because of the meager productivity of the unaided man. The arts and crafts movement of to-day is democratic. It proclaims to the world that beauty, skill and education are for all; and that the common thing should be made beautiful, and the beautiful, universal. If the machine enables us to produce the necessities of life for all, it is, nevertheless, the skilled human hand which must adorn and beautify these products. The hand must find its province where the machine can not go. In its proper sphere, the machine may make beautiful things, and may even excel the hand; it is not the use of the machine, but the abuse of machine production, which should be deprecated; without the machine much of our present material comfort would be impossible.

Art is a form of industry, and industry properly applied always brings forth a work of art. The mechanic, fashioning the accurate and splendid tool, produces a work of art; the man, forming with infinite care the lenses of the great Lick telescope, brings into being another work of art. The automatic screw machine and the steam engine are as certainly works of art as the painting or the sculpture of the great masters of the Renaissance. There is and can be no real art considered entirely apart and distinct from industry and the industrial life of the people. As Emerson has said: "Beauty must come back to the useful arts and the distinction between the final and the useful arts be forgotten." Art is a way of doing things and resides in the common as well as in the uncommon, at home as well as abroad, in the present as well as in the past.

The old craftsmen were artists. They wrought with infinite care as much for the satisfaction of doing good and true work as for the money value of the product. The products of the craftsman's skill