Document 21: Frank Lloyd Wright -- Art and Craft of the Machine 1901 & Gustav Stickley -- The Use and Abuse of Machinery, and Its Relation to the Arts and Crafts
Wright felt that the machine must be the normal tool for his simple designs, but he was dismayed by the results of the typical furniture factories, which turned out ornamented carcasses in numerous revival styles.
Wright had proclaimed the machine the "normal tool of civilization." However, an investigation into shop practices at the turn of the century indicates that although machines were increasingly employed to replace handwork, the skills of the cabinetmaker were still needed: "Machines should not displace skilled labor," argued George Ellis in 1902 (Modern Practical Joinery, London, 1902; reprinted 1921, p. 87), as a competent joiner-machinist turns out better work than the average laborer. By his "knowledge of the requirements of the specific work in hand, a skilled craftsman often utilises a machine in a manner never dreamt of by the untechnical operator."
Source: Adapted from David A. Hanks, The Decorative Designs of Frank Lloyc Wright New York: Dover, 1979, page 41.
Should arts and crafts furniture be made with power machines?
4-13-07 This is a work in progress, with what falls below the major outline.
(Adapted from tanya harrod the crafts in britain in the 20th century 1999, pages 15 ff.)
This was a debate in
around 1916, and relates to the legacy of William Morris. Morris died in 1896. It was a debate, too, that surfaced in America. Britain
Theme is set by Ruskin
This anti-machine position for creating "art" such as furniture was, in truth, more the legacy of John Ruskin. His great sweeping attack on nineteenth-century taste and modes of production in The Nature of Gothic, a chapter in the second volume of The Stones of Venice (1853), introduced a Luddism which was fierce, symbolic and undiscriminating. Ruskin's identification of the social misery which he saw behind the production of the fittings and furnishings of a middle-class drawing room stood unchallenged until the 1960s when, belatedly, the designer David Pye went doggedly through the text, demonstrating its illogicalities and the limitations of Ruskin's understanding of manufacturing processes.11[11. Sec David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship,
Press 1968, Chapter 10.] Cambridge University
Ruskins values reiterated by Morris
Art will die out of civilization, if the system lasts. That in itself does me to carry with it the condemnation of the whole system.
The shadow of William Morris upon early 20th century crafts was, evidently, imposing. Morris, in the form of Morris & Company, set up a business that was financially sound, that was supported by the skills of trade craftsmen, and which by the time of his death was well known throughout Europe and the
. (Harrod. P ?) Morris's various houses are well documented and continued to be important extensions of his design vision after his death. United States
But Morris own position is hypocritical
Morris also stands in a problematic relationship to the Arts and Crafts Movement, especially in its late phase, roughly the decade and a half before the First World War. This was partly because the Movement first flourished in the 1880s, when his view of things was intensely political.
But there was another contradiction at the heart of Morris's life and work. The implications of Morris vision of a "glorious art made by the people and for the people, as a happiness to the maker and the user" is that art objects -- including furniture would be hand made.
(The above link is for text in The Art of the People (1879) in The Collected Works of William Morris -- quote is on page 34 of google print book, but book is only partially available online.)
As Tanya Harrod [The Crafts in Britain in the 20th Century (Yale, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), page 16-17], notes, Morris' strictures were
at odds with his own practice as a designer. He worked out his designs on paper and though he went to great lengths to master the technicalities of certain crafts, his designs were carried out by professional craftsmen....
Morris, as a sound businessman, kept practice and philosophy separate, apparently believing that only after a full blooded revolution would it be possible for a new art to develop. ...
Harrod claims, though, that Morris was not a Luddite.
It is not this or that tangible steel or brass machine which we want to get rid of ... but the great intangible machine of commercial tyranny, which oppresses the lives of all of us.
Source: Art and Its Producers (1888) -- google print, page 250, but only in a snippet view.According to Harrod, Morris "believed that the making of things by hand using simple tools was a pleasurable and worthwhile activity, but in practice he never made a shibboleth of handwork." Nor, Harrod continues, "did the founders of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, who were primarily designers who turned over their designs to commercial firms or to professional trade craftsmen or women. Yet part of the Morris legacy was an antipathy to machines whose evils were discussed, interminably, on into the 1930s".(see Peter Floud, 'The Crafts Then and Now', The Studio 1943, reprinted in John Houston, ed., Crafts classics since the 1940s: An anthology of belief and comment, Crafts Council of Great Britain, London, 1988, as cited by Tanya Harrod, The Crafts in Britain in the 20th Century (Yale, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), page 17-18.)
The issue is further confused when we try to differentiate between hand and power tools.
[in Britain? the following two paragraphs are from Harrod's text, and -- for clarification -- require more investigation] [What we can say is that by the 1920s the simplest tools and processes were preferred in craft circles, as middle-class men and women embraced Morris's hopes for 'pleasure in labour'. This care about the means of production had striking artistic consequences .... [A] preference for direct processes meant that the craft movement after the First World War became a narrower affair than the Arts and Crafts of the previous century -- simply because it cut itself off from industrial production.
The preference for direct processes and small workshops and the consequent possibilities for self expression (or self indulgence?) went hand in hand with the popularisation of the crafts. The fundamental texts for this dissemination of handcraft values were the Artistic Crafts Series of Technical Handbooks edited by W. R. Lethaby, the architect and first Principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Appearing from 1901 until 1916, they communicated a precise message. All were directed at the putative designer-maker and were purist and populist and anti-industrial. Lethaby's limpid, idealistic prefaces suggested that preferably the designer should also be the maker and that a living could be made from craftwork. ]
Citation for Series in Worldcat Bibliographic Database: Lethaby, W. R."The Artistic crafts series of technical handbooks ... " Lethaby, (William Richard, 1857-1931
A personal note: As a woodworker myself, I know from experience what is "handmade" and "what is made with power tools" can be confusing. I am myself a pretty thorough-going power-tool woodworker -- which means that what woodworking I do is rarely done by hand tools -- but I have woodworking friends -- who own a panoply of major power tools -- who swear by the enjoyment (and efficiency) they obtain from working with hand tools such as planes and scrapers. Further, woodworking is an "art" not a science, and "wood", itself, an unpredictable medium with which to work. Often woodworkers resort to an interchange between poser and hand tools in order to accomplish a task properly. In other words, following Harrod, it is often
not easy to define the handmade or even to draw a clear line between machines and tools. Few things are made by the hand unaided and many tools are guided by some kind of jig.
(This theme is explored by the British designer, David Pye, in "The Art of Workmanship 1", Crafts History One, Combined Arts 1988, pages 143152, and I will be adding more text here soon.)
Critical Response in
Some early twentieth-century writers noticed a growing gap between the Movement and its earlier design reform ambitions, as it focused increasingly on the designer-craftsman and the small workshop. For instance the Fabian socialist critic, A.R. Orage, argued in "Politics for Craftsmen" [ in the Contemporary Review in 1907,] that a disconnect existed between the political objectives of Morris's' lectures -- and in his utopian novel News from Nowhere -- Morris' alleged ideals of handwork failed to materialize.
Instead, for Orage, the crafts had turned into a "lamentable series of little Guilds, hole-in-the-corner institutions, associations for the sale of petty craftwork, cunning devices for attracting the wealthy, fantastic designs to attract people of no taste, and all the indications of a movement that has ceased to be a movement at all".( A.R. Orage, "Politics for Craftsmen", Contemporary Review , as cited by Tanya Harrod, The Crafts in Britain in the 20th Century (Yale, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), page 19.)
Orage's arguments for a return to the medieval system of guilds was not something editors and/or readers of the London weekly, Work, wanted to hear. The editor of Work, the Australian, Paul N Hasluck. (Hasluck also edited the monthly, Amateur Mechanics.)
Graham Wallas's The Great Society, published on the eve of the Great War, took a less romantic view of 'the workman'. Wallas (Figure 9) a founder of the
London , dismissed the guild solution, pointing out that the medieval guilds had degenerated into stagnant hereditary monopolies. But Wallas recognised that modern industrialised society had brought about something difficult to quantify or measure a loss of happiness in work coupled with a feeling of dispossession among ordinary people. Much of The Great Society is nostalgic in tone; it is a modern book which looks backwards. Wallas's ideal society was to be found in the craft-based villages and small towns of Norvvdy. He contrasted skilled craftwork with Taylorism and the production line. He quoted a translation of a Sinhalese potter's song with its `indescribable sense of delight in the work'. He also quoted William Morris: `how nice it will be when I get back to my little patterns and dyeing, and the dear little warp and weft at Hammersmith.' But then come the hard, dismissive economics. schoolof Economics
Wallas calculated that each citizen in Morris's ideal community would have to work 200 hours a week `in order to produce by the methods he advocated the quantity of beautiful and delicious things which they were to enjoy'. 20 [20. Graham Wallas, The Great Society: Psychological Analysis Macmillan 1914, p.347. Wallas's daunting calculation decided Leonard Elmhirst against a role for pure ha] crafts in his rural reconstruction projects at Darting Hall. See Michael Young, The Elmhirsts of Dartington:' Creation of an Utopian Community, Routledge & Kegan 1 982, p.207. This figure was also quoted by the Design and Industries Association but upped to coo hours. Joseph Thorp (ed. ), Design in Modern Printing. The Year of the Design and Industries Association, 1927-8, p.118]
In 1899 the American economist, Thorstein Veblen had taken the virtuous humility of the Arts and Crafts, its rejection of modern industrial production, and turned it on its head. Veblen had made a pilgrimage to see Morris in 1896, the year of the great man's death.
Morris had been immersed in the fine detail of the luxurious volumes of his Kelmscott Press and the meeting was not a success. Three years later in his brilliantly satirical The Theory of the Leisure Class Veblen argued that in an industrialised society, handmade products inevitably become more prestigious than mass-produced goods. The Arts and Crafts Movement, in particular, was dismissed as a source of items of "conspicuous consumption"' (Veblen's memorable phrase) to be classified in sociological terms with elaborate, impractical upper-class dress.
The Theory of the Leisure Class was read by the connoisseur and art critic Roger Fry (Fig. i 0). Fry knew a good deal about Arts and Crafts philosophies. He had formed a youthful friendship with C.R. Ashbee, whose Guild of Handicraft attempted to combine socialism and crafts. Fry was genuinely interested in applied art, reviewing Arts and Crafts shows for the Athenaeum from 1900. This interest developed in tandem with his discovery of the paintings of Cezanne and the Post-Impressionist exhibitions which he organised at the Grafton Galleries in 1910 and 1912. In the first of these Fry included earthenware and stoneware pottery by painters like Henri Matisse, Maurice Vlaminck, Andre Derain, Pierre Girieud and Othon Friesz, emphasising the links between advanced art and the crafts.22 But the setting up of the Omega Workshops by Fry and others early in 1913 was essentially a critique of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It introduced a re-alignment of positions that was to be of great importance for future craft work.
Frank Lloyd Wright
"Art and Craft of the Machine" 1901
1: MACHINERY, MATERIALS AND MENAN ARCHITECTURE for these United States will be born "Modern," as were all the Architectures of the peoples of all the world. Perhaps this is the deep-seated reason why the young man in Architecture grieves his parents, academic and familiar, by yielding to the fascination of creation, instead of persisting as the creature of ancient circumstance. This, his rational surrender to instinct, is known, I believe, as "rebellion."
I am here to aid and comfort rebellion insofar as rebellion has this honorable instincteven though purpose may not yet be clearly definednor any fruits, but only ists, isms or istics be in sight. Certainly we may now see the dawning of a deeper insight than has for the past thirty years characterized so-called American Architecture. By that length of time American Architecture has been neither American nor Architecture. We have had instead merely a bad form of surface-decoration.
This "dawn" is the essential concern of this moment and the occasion for this series of "lectures." We, here at Princeton, are to guard this dawning in-sight and help to guide its courage, passion and patience into channels where depth and flow is adequate, instead of allowing youthful adventure to ground in shallows all there beneath the surface in the offing, ready to hinder and betray native progress.
In this effort I suppose I am to suffer disadvantage, being more accustomed to saying things with a hod of mortar and some bricks, or with a concrete mixer and a gang of workmen, than by speaking or writing. I like to write, but always dissatisfied, I, too, find myself often staring at the result with a kind of nausea . . . or is it nostalgia?
I dislike to lecture, feeling something like the rage of impotence. With a small audience hovering over my drawing-board, there would be better feeling on my part and a better chance for the audience. But a lecturer may, in fact must, make his own diversion, indulge his "malice" as he goes along, or get no entertainment at all out of the matter.
So here at my hand I have some gently malicious pamphlets or leaflets is-sued, as myth has it, by that mythical group to which careless reference is sometimes made, by the thoughtless, as the "New School of the Middle West." From these rare, heretical pamphlets, from time to time as I may have occasion, I shall quote. Among them are such titles as : "Palladio turns in his grave and speaks," another, "Groans from Phidias" : the author's original title it would be beside our mark to mention it was suppressed by the group as just that much too much. One solitary "New School" scholar, him-self having, under painful economic pressure, degenerated to the practice of mere Architectural surgery blaming Vitruvius for his degradation wrote bitterly and much under the title of "Vitruviolic Disorders."
A number of these leaflets are given over by several and sundry of the "New School" to the ravages of the "Vignola" an academic epidemic showing itself as a creeping paralysis of the emotional nature creeping by way of the optic nerve.
During the course of our afternoons, from among these modestly profane references we may have occasion to hear from a rudely awakened Bramante, an indignant Sansovino, a gently aggrieved Brunelleschi, perhaps even from robustious "Duomo" Buonarotti himself, all, plucked even of their shrouds, frowning up from their graves on their pretentious despoilers . . . our own American Classicists. These time-honored Italians in these wayward and flip-pant leaflets, are made to speak by way of a sort of motor-car Vasari. His name deserves to be lost and as certainly will be.
Unfortunately and sad to say, because their names and individualities are unknown to us, so close were they, as men, to the soil or to Man, we shall be unable to hear from the ancient builders of "Le Moyen Age," those dreamers in cloisters, guild-masters, gardeners, worshipers of the tree, or the noble stone-craftsmen of still earlier Byzantium, who were much like the cathedral builders in spirit. No we shall hear from them only as we, ourselves, are likewise dreamers, gardeners, or worshipers of the tree and by sympathetic nature, therefore, well qualified to understand the silence of these white men. And those human nature-cultures of the red man, lost in backward stretch of time, almost beyond our horizon the Maya, the Indian and of the black man, the African we may learn from them. Last, but not least, come the men of bronze, the Chinese, the Japanese profound builders of the Orient imaginative demons, their Art of Earth winging its way to the skies: Dragons with wings their fitting symbol. Of their Art much. The ethnic eccentricity of their work makes it safe inspiration for the white man, who now needs,
it seems, aesthetic fodder that he cannot copy nor reproduce. I am not sure but there is more for us in our modern grapple with creation, in their sense of the living thing in Art, than we can find in any other culture. Profundity of feeling the men of bronze could encourage. Their forms we should have to let alone.
. . . ... . . .
In order that we may not foregather here in this dignified atmosphere of Princeton without due reference to authority, we will go far back for our text on this, our first afternoon together. Go so far back that we need fear no contra-diction. Go without hesitation, to Rameses the Great, to find that: "All great Architecture" Rameses might have used the hieroglyph for Art instead of the one for Architecture "All great Architecture is true to its Architects' immediate present," and seal it with the regal symbol. And in this connection comes the title of our discourse the "MACHINERY, MATERIALS AND MEN" of our immediate present.
Long ago, yes, so long ago that the memory of it seems to join with recent echoes from Tut-Ank-Amen's ancient tomb, I passionately swore that the Machine was no less, rather more, an artist's tool than any he had ever had or heard of, if only he would do himself the honor to learn to use it. Twenty-seven years old now, the then offensive heresy has been translated and published, I am told, in seven or more foreign languages, English excepted, which means said in seven or more different ways. But just what the seven different ways each exactly mean, I can have no idea. At the time, I knew no better than to make the declaration it seemed so sensibly obvious in the vast cinderfield in which I then stood our enormous industrial Middle West.
Today, twenty-seven years later, the heresy is become truism, at least "truistic," therefore sufficiently trite to arouse no hostility even if said in several or even seven different ways. And yet: a Pompeian recently come back and struggling for nourishment on French soil has reiterated one-quarter of the matter, made more stark, with signs of success right here in our own country. The reiteration reaches us across the Atlantic more Machine-made than the erstwhile cry in the cinderfield, but with several important omissions most important, at least, to us. Or perhaps, who knows, they may not really be omissions but evasions. First among these probable evasions is the Nature of Materials; Second, is that characteristic architectural element, the Third Dimension; and Third, there is Integral Ornament. This neglected Trinity, it seems to me, constitutes the beating heart of the whole matter of Architecture so far as Art is concerned.
Surface and Mass, relatively superficial, however Machine-made or however much resembling Machinery, are subordinate to this great Trinity. Surface and Mass are a by-product, or will be when Architecture arises out of the matter. If proof is needed we shall find it as we go along together. . . .
Machinery, MATERIALS AND MEN-these are the stuffs by means of which the so-called American Architect will get his Architecture, if there is any such Architect and America ever gets any Architecture of her own. Only by the strength of his spirit's grasp upon all three Machinery, Materials and Men will the Architect be able so to build that his work may be worthy the great name "Architecture." A great Architecture is greatest proof of human greatness.
The difference, to the Architect and his fellow Artists, between our era and others, lies simply enough in the substitution of automatic machinery for tools, and (more confusing), instead of hereditary aristocracy for patron, the Artist now relies upon automatic industrialism, conditioned upon the automatic acquiescence of Men, and conditioned not at all upon their individual handicraftsmanship.
At first blush an appalling difference, and the more it is studied, the more important the difference becomes. And were we now to be left without prophet that is, without interpretation and should we among ourselves, be unable to arouse the leadership of supreme human imagination yes, then we should be at the beginning of the end of all the great qualities we are foregathered here to cherish: namely, the Arts which are those great qualities in any civilization. This Republic has already gone far with very little of any single one of these great saving qualities, yet it goes further, faster and safer; eats more, and eats more regularly; goes softer, safer, is more comfortable and egotistic in a more universal mediocrity than ever existed on Earth before. But who knows where it is going? In this very connection, among the more flippant references referred to as at hand, there is also heavy matter and I have here serious original matter, saved several years ago from the flames by a miracle. The first pages were blackened and charred by fire, of this original manuscript, first read to a group of professors, artists, architects and manufacturers at Hull House, Chicago. To show you how it all seemed to me, back there, twenty-seven years ago in Chicago, I shall read into the record, once more, from its pages. Should its clumsy earnestness bore you remember that the young man who wrote, should, in that earlier day, as now, have confined him-self to a hod of mortar and some bricks. But passionately he was trying to write making ready to do battle for the life of the thing he loved. And I would remind you, too, that in consequence he has been engaged in eventually mortal combat ever since.
Here is the manuscript. We will begin, twenty-seven years later, again, at the beginning of --
THE ART AND CRAFT OF THE MACHINE
No one, I hope, has come here tonight for a Sociological prescription for the cure of evils peculiar to this Machine Age. For I come to you as an Architect to say my word for the right use upon such new materials as we have, of our great substitute for tools Machines. There is no thrift in any craft until the tools are mastered; nor will, there be worthy social order in America until the elements by which America does its work are mastered by American society. Nor can there be an Art worth the man or the name until these elements are grasped and truthfully idealized in whatever we as a people try to make. Although these elemental truths should be commonplace enough by now, as a people we do not understand them nor do we see the way to apply them. We are probably richer in raw materials for our use as workmen, citizens or artists than any other nation, but outside mechanical genius for mere contrivance we are not good workmen, nor, beyond adventitious or propitious respect for property, are we as good citizens as we should be, nor are we artists at all. We are one and all, consciously or unconsciously, mastered by our fascinating automatic "implements," using them as substitutes for tools. To make this assertion clear I offer you evidence I have found in the field of Architecture. It is still a field in which the pulse of the age throbs beneath much shabby finery and one broad enough (God knows) to represent the errors and possibilities common to our time-serving Time.
Architects in the past have embodied the spirit common to their own life and to the life of the society in which they lived in the most noble of all noble records Buildings. They wrought these valuable records with the primitive tools at their command and whatever these records have to say to us today would be utterly insignificant if not wholly illegible were tools suited to another and different condition stupidly forced to work upon them; blindly compelled to do work to which they were not fitted, work which they could only spoil.
In this age of steel and steam the tools with which civilization's true record will be written are scientific thoughts made operative in iron and bronze and steel and in the plastic processes which characterize this age, all of which we call Machines. The Electric Lamp is in this sense a Machine. New materials in the man-Machines have made the physical body of this age what it is as distinguished from former ages. They have made our era the Machine Age wherein locomotive engines, engines of industry, engines of light or engines of war or steamships take the place works of Art took in previous history. Today we have a Scientist or an Inventor in place of a Shakespeare or a Dante. Captains of Industry are modern substitutes, not only for Kings and Potentates, but, I am afraid, for great Artists as well. And yet man-made environment is the truest, most characteristic of all human records. Let a man build and you have him. You may not have all he is, but certainly he is what you have. Usually you will have his outline. Though the elements may be in him to enable him to grow out of his present self-made characterization, few men are ever belied by self-made environment. Certainly no historical period was ever so misrepresented. Chicago in its ugliness today becomes as true an expression of the life lived here as is any center on earth where men come together closely to live it out or fight it out. Man is a selecting principle, gathering his like to him wherever he goes. The intensifying of his existence by close contact, too, flashes out the human record vividly in his background and his surroundings. But somewhere somehow in our age, although signs of the times are not wanting, beauty in this expression is forfeited the record is illegible when not ignoble. We must walk blindfolded through the streets of this, or any great modern American city, to fail to see that all this magnificent resource of machine-power and superior material has brought to us, so far, is degradation. All of the Art forms sacred to The Art of Old are, by us, prostitute.
On every side we see evidence of inglorious quarrel between things as they were and things as they must be and are. This shame a certain merciful ignorance on our part mistakes for glorious achievement. We believe in our greatness when we have tossed up a Pantheon to the god of money in a night or two, like the Illinois Trust Building or the Chicago National Bank. And it is our glory to get together a mammoth aggregation of Roman monuments, sarcophagi and temples for a Post Office in a year or two. On Michigan Avenue Montgomery Ward presents us with a nondescript Florentine Palace with a grand campanile for a "Farmer Grocery" and it is as common with us as it is elsewhere to find the giant stone Palladian "orders" overhanging plate glass shop fronts. Show windows beneath Gothic office buildings, the office-middle topped by Parthenons, or models of any old sacrificial temple, are a common sight. Every commercial interest in any American town, in fact, is scurrying for respectability by seeking some advertising connection, at least, with the "Classic." A commercial Renaissance is here; the Renaissance of "the ass in the lion's skin." This much, at least, we owe to the late Columbian Fair that triumph of modern civilization in 1893 will go down in American Architectural history, when it is properly recorded, as a mortgage upon posterity that posterity must repudiate not only as usurious but as forged.
In our so-called "Sky-Scrapers" (latest and most famous business-building triumph), good granite or Bedford stone is cut into the fashion of the Italian followers of Phidias and his Greek slaves. Blocks so cut are cunningly arranged about a structure of steel beams and shafts (which structure secretly robs them of any real meaning), in order to make the finished building resemble the architecture bepictured by Palladio and Vitruvius in the school-books. It is quite as feasible to begin putting on this Italian trimming at the cornice, and come on down to the base as it is to work, as the less fortunate Italians were forced to do, from the base upward. Yes, "from the top down" is often the actual method employed. The keystone of a Roman or Gothic arch may now be "set" that is to say "hung" and the voussoirs stuck alongside or "hung" on downward to the haunches. Finally this mask, completed, takes on the features of the pure "Classic," or any variety of "Renaissance" or whatever catches the fancy or fixes the "convictions" of the designer. Most likely, an education in Art has "fixed" both. Our Chicago University, "a seat of learning," is just as far removed from truth. If environment is significant and indicative, what does this highly reactionary, extensive and expensive scene-painting by means of hybrid Collegiate Gothic signify? Because of Oxford it seems to be generally accepted as "appropriate for scholastic purposes." Yet, why should an American University in a land of Democratic ideals in a Machine Age be characterized by second-hand adaptation of Gothic forms, themselves adapted previously to our own adoption by a feudalistic age with tools to use and conditions to face totally different from anything we can call our own? The Public Library is again Asinine Renaissance, bones sticking through the flesh because the interior was planned by a shrewd Library Board while an "Art-Architect" (the term is Chicago's, not mine) was "hired" to "put the architecture on it." The "classical" aspect of the sham-front must be preserved at any cost to sense. Nine out of ten public buildings in almost any American city are the same.
On Michigan Avenue, too, we pass another pretentious structure, this time fashioned as inculcated by the Ecole des Beaux Arts after the ideals and methods of a Graeco-Roman, inartistic, grandly brutal civilization, a civilization that borrowed everything but its jurisprudence. Its essential tool was the slave. Here at the top of our Culture is the Chicago Art Institute, and very like other Art Institutes. Between lions realistic Kemyss would have them so because Barye did we come beneath some stone millinery into the grandly useless lobby. Here French's noble statue of the Republic con-fronts us she too, Imperial. The grand introduction over, we go further on to find amid plaster casts of antiquity, earnest students patiently gleaning a half-acre or more of archaeological dry-bones, arming here for industrial conquest, in other words to go out and try to make a living by making some valuable impression upon the Machine Age in which they live. Their fundamental tool in this business about which they will know just this much less than nothing, is the Machine. In this acre or more not one relic has any vital relation to things as they are for these students, except for the blessed circumstance that they are more or less beautiful things in themselves bodying forth the beauty of "once upon a time." These students at best are to concoct from a study of the aspect of these blind reverences an extract of antiquity suited to modern needs, meanwhile knowing nothing of modern needs, permitted to care nothing for them, and knowing just as little of the needs of the ancients which made the objects they now study. The tyros are taught in the name of John Ruskin and William Morris to shun and despise the essential tool of their Age as a matter commercial and antagonistic to Art. So in time they go forth, each armed with his little Academic extract, applying it as a sticking-plaster from without, wherever it can be made to stick, many helplessly knowing in their hearts that it should be a development from within but how? And this is an education in Art in these United States, A.D. 1903. Climb now the grand monumental stairway to see the results of this cultural effort we call it "education" hanging over the walls of the Exhibition Galleries. You will find there the same empty reverences to the past at cost to the present and of doubtful value to the future, unless a curse is valuable. Here you may see fruits of the lust and pride of the patron-collector but how shamefully little to show by way of encouraging patronage by the Artist of his own day and generation. This is a Temple of the Fine Arts. A sacred place! It should be the heart-center, the emotional inspiration of a great national industrial activity, but here we find Tradition not as an inspiring spirit animating progress. No. Now more in the past than ever! No more, now, than an ancient mummy, a dead letter. A "precedent" is a "hang over" to copy, the copy to be copied for Machine reproduction, to be shamelessly reproduced until de-moralized utterly or unrecognizable.
More unfortunate, however, than all this fiasco, is the Fiasco al Fresco. The suburban house-parade is more servile still. Any popular avenue or suburb will show the polyglot encampment displaying, on the neatly kept little plots, a theatrical desire on the part of fairly respectable people to live in Chateaux, Manor Houses, Venetian Palaces, Feudal Castles, and Queen Anne Cottages. Many with sufficient hardihood abide in abortions of the Carpenter-Architect, our very own General Grant Gothic perhaps, intended to beat all the "lovely periods" at their own game and succeeding. Look within all this typical monotony-in-variety and see there the machine-made copies of handicraft originals; in fact, unless you, the householder, are fortunate indeed, possessed of extraordinary taste and opportunity, all you possess is in some degree a machine-made example of vitiated handicraft, imitation antique furniture made antique by the Machine, itself of all abominations the most abominable. Everything must be curved and carved and carved and turned. The whole mass a tortured sprawl supposed artistic. And the floor-coverings? Probably machine-weavings of Oriental Rug patterns pattern and texture mechanically perfect; or worse, your walls are papered with paper-imitations of old tapestry, imitation patterns and imitation textures, stamped or printed by the Machine; imitations under foot, imitations overhead and imitations all round about you. You are sunk in "Imitation." Your much-moulded wood-work is stained "antique." Inevitably you have a white-and-gold "reception-room" with a few gilded chairs, an overwrought piano, and withal, about you a general cheap machine-made "profusion" of copies of copies of original imitations. To you, proud proprietors do these things thus degraded mean anything aside from vogue and price? Aside from your sense of quantitative ownership, do you perceive in them some fine fitness in form, line and color to the purposes which they serve? Are the chairs to sit in, the tables to use, the couch comfortable, and are all harmoniously related to each other and to your own life? Do many of the furnishings or any of the window-millinery serve any purpose at all of which you can think? Do you enjoy in "things" the least appreciation of truth in beautiful guise? If not, you are a victim of habit, a habit evidence enough of the stagnation of an outgrown Art. Here we have the curse of stupidity a cheap substitute for ancient Art and Craft which has no vital meaning in your own life or our time. You line the box you live in as a magpie lines its nest. You need not be ashamed to confess your ignorance of the meaning of all this, because not only you, but every one else, is hopelessly ignorant concerning it; it is "impossible." Imitations of imitations, copies of copies, cheap expedients, lack of integrity, some few blind gropings for simplicity to give hope to the picture. That is all.
Why wonder what has become of the grand spirit of Art that made, in times past, man's reflection in his environment a godlike thing. This is what has become of it! Of all conditions, this one at home is most deplorable, for to the homes of this country we must look for any beginning of the awakening of an artistic conscience which will change this parasitic condition to independent growth. The homes of the people will change before public buildings can possibly change.
Glance now for a moment behind this adventitious scene-painting passing, at home, for Art in the Nineteenth Century. Try to sense the true conditions underlying all, and which you betray and belie in the name of Culture. Study with me for a moment the engine which produces this wreckage and builds you, thus cheapened and ridiculous, into an ignoble record.
Here is this thing we call the Machine, contrary to the principle of organic growth, but imitating it, working irresistibly the will of Man through the medium of men. All of us are drawn helplessly into its mesh as we tread our daily round. And its offices call them "services" have become the common-place background of modern existence; yes, and sad to say, in too many lives the foreground, middle distance and future. At best we ourselves are already become or are becoming some cooperative part in a vast machinery. It is, with us, as though we were controlled by some great crystallizing principle going on in Nature all around us and going on, in spite of ourselves, even in our very own natures. If you would see how interwoven it is, this thing we call the Machine, with the warp and the woof of civilization, if indeed it is not now the very basis of civilization itself, go at nightfall when all is simplified and made suggestive, to the top of our newest Skyscraper, the Masonic Temple. There you may see how in the image of material man, at once his glory and his menace, is this thing we call a City. Beneath you is the monster stretching out into the far distance. High overhead hangs a stagnant pall, its fetid breath reddened with light from myriad eyes endlessly, everywhere blinking. Thousands of acres of cellular tissue outspread, enmeshed by an intricate network of veins and arteries radiating into the gloom. Circulating there with muffled ominous roar is the ceaseless activity to whose necessities it all conforms. This wondrous tissue is knit and knit again and inter-knit with a nervous system, marvellously effective and complete, with delicate filaments for hearing and knowing the pulse of its own organism, acting intelligently upon the ligaments and tendons of motive impulse, and in it all is flowing the impelling electric fluid of man's own life. And the labored breathing, murmur, clangor, and the roar how the voice of this monstrous force rises to proclaim the marvel of its structure! Near at hand, the ghastly warning boom from the deep throats of vessels heavily seeking inlet to the waterway below, answered by the echoing clangor of the bridge bells. A distant shriek grows nearer, more ominous, as the bells warn the living current from the swinging bridge and a vessel cuts for a moment the flow of the nearer artery. Closing then upon the great vessel's stately passage the double bridge is just in time to receive in a rush of steam the avalanche of blood and metal hurled across it; a streak of light gone roaring into the night on glittering bands of steel; an avalanche encircled in its flight by slender magic lines, clicking faithfully from station to station its nervous herald, its warning and its protection.
Nearer, in the building ablaze with midnight activity, a spotless paper band is streaming into the marvel of the multiple-press, receiving indelibly the impression of human hopes and fears, throbbing in the pulse of this great activity, as infallibly as the gray-matter of the human brain receives the impression of the senses. The impressions come forth as millions of neatly folded, perfected news-sheets, teeming with vivid appeals to good and evil passions ;weaving a web of intercommunication so far-reaching that distance becomes as nothing, the thought of one man in one corner of the earth on one day visible on the next to all men. The doings of all the world are reflected here as in a glass so marvellously sensitive this simple band streaming endlessly from day to day becomes in the grasp of the multiple-press.
If the pulse of this great activity automatons working night and day in every line of industry, to the power of which the tremor of the mammoth steel skeleton beneath your feet is but an awe-inspiring response is thrilling, what of the prolific, silent obedience to man's will underlying it all? If this power must be uprooted that civilization may live, then civilization is already doomed. Remain to contemplate this wonder until the twinkling lights perish in groups, or follow one by one, leaving others to live through the gloom; fires are banked, tumult slowly dies to an echo here and there. Then the darkened pall is gradually lifted and moonlight outlines the shadowy, sullen masses of structure, structure deeply cut here and there by half-luminous channels. Huge patches of shadow in shade and darkness commingle mysteriously in the block-like plan with box-like skylines contrasting strangely with the broad surface of the lake beside, placid and resplendent with a silver gleam. Re-main, I say, to reflect that the texture of the city, this great Machine, is the warp upon which will be woven the woof and pattern of the Democracy we pray for. Realize that it has been deposited here, particle by particle, in blind obedience to law Law no less organic so far as we are concerned than the laws of the great solar universe. That universe, too, in a sense, is but an obedient machine.
Magnificent power! And it confronts the young Architect and his Artist comrades now, with no other beauty a lusty material giant without trace of ideality, absurdly disguised by garments long torn to tatters or contemptuously tossed aside, outgrown. Within our own recollection we have all been horrified at the bitter cost of this ruthless development appalled to sec this great power driven by Greed over the innocent and defenseless we have seen bread snatched from the mouths of sober and industrious men, honorable occupations going to the wall with a riot, a feeble strike, or a stifled moan, outclassed, outdone, outlived by the Machine. The workman him-self has come to regard this relentless force as his Nemesis and combines against machinery in the trades with a wild despair that dashes itself to pieces, while the Artist blissfully dreaming in the halls we have just visited or walking blindly abroad in the paths of the past, berates his own people for lack-luster senses, rails against industrial conditions that neither afford him his opportunity, nor, he says, can appreciate him as he, panderer to ill-gotten luxury, folding his hands, starves to death. "Innocuous martyr upon the cross of Art!" One by one, tens by tens, soon thousands by thousands, handicraftsmen and parasitic artists succumb to the inevitable as one man at a Machine does the work of from five to fifty men in the same time, with all the Art there is meanwhile prostituting to old methods and misunderstood ideals the far greater new possibilities due to this same Machine, and doing this disgracefully in the name of the Beautiful!
American Society has the essential tool of its own age by the blade, as lacerated hands everywhere testify!
See the magnificent prowess of this unqualified power strewing our surroundings with the mangled corpses of a happier time. We live amid ghostly relics whose pattern once stood for cultivated luxury and now stands for an ignorant matter of taste. With no regard for first principles of common sense the letter of Tradition is recklessly fed into rapacious maws of machines until the reproduction, reproduced ad nauseam, may be had for five, ten or ninety-nine cents although the worthy original cost ages of toil and patient culture. This might seem like progress, were it not for the fact that these butchered forms, the life entirely gone out of them, are now harmful parasites, belittling and falsifying any true perception of normal beauty the Creator may have seen fit to implant in us on our own account. Any idea whatever of fitness to purpose or of harmony between form and use is gone from us. It is lacking in these things one and all, because it is so sadly lacking in us. And as for making the best of our own conditions or repudiating the terms on which this vulgar insult to Tradition is produced, thereby insuring and rectifying the industrial fabric thus wasted or enslaved by base imitation the mere idea is abnormal, as I myself have found to my sorrow.
And among the Few, the favored chosen Few who love Art by nature and would devote their energies to it so that it may live and let them live any training they can seek would still be a protest against the Machine as the Creator of all this iniquity, when (God knows) it is no more than the Creature.
But, I say, usurped by Greed and deserted by its natural interpreter, the Artist, the Machine is only the creature, not the Creator of this iniquity! I say the Machine has noble possibilities unwillingly forced to this degradation, degraded by the Arts themselves. Insofar as the true capacity of the Machine is concerned it is itself the crazed victim of Artist-impotence. Why will the American Artist not see that human thought in our age is stripping off its old form and donning another; why is the Artist unable to see that this is his glorious opportunity to create and reap anew?
But let us be practical let us go now afield for evident instances of Machine abuse or abuse by the Machine. I will show you typical abuses that should serve to suggest to any mind, capable of thought, that the Machine is, to begin with, a marvellous simplifier in no merely negative sense. Come now, with me, and see examples which show that these craft-engines may be the modern emancipator of the creative mind. We may find them to be the regenerator of the creative conscience in our America, as well, so soon as a stultified "Culture" will allow them to be so used.
First as perhaps wood is most available of home-building materials, naturally then the most abused let us now glance at wood. Elaborate machinery has been invented for no other purpose than to imitate the wood-carving of early handicraft patterns. Result? No good joinery. None salable without some horrible glued-on botch-work meaning nothing, unless it means that "Art and Craft" (by salesmanship) has fixed in the minds of the masses the elaborate old hand-carved chair as ultimate ideal. The miserable tribute to this perversion yielded by Grand Rapids alone would mar the face of Art beyond repair, to say nothing of the weird or fussy joinery of spindles and jig-sawing, beamed, braced and elaborated to outdo in sentimentality the sentiment of some erstwhile overwrought "antique." The beauty of wood lies in its qualities as wood, strange as this may seem. Why does it take so much imagination just to see that? Treatments that fail to bring out those qualities, foremost, are not plastic, therefore no longer appropriate. The in-appropriate cannot be beautiful.
The Machine at work on wood will itself teach us and we seem so far to have left it to the Machine to do so that certain simple forms and handling serve to bring out the beauty of wood, and to retain its character, and that certain other forms and handling do not bring out its beauty, but spoil it. All wood-carving is apt to be a forcing of this material likely to destroy the finer possibilities of wood as we may know those possibilities now. In itself wood has beauty of marking, exquisite texture, and delicate nuances of color that carving is likely to destroy. The Machines used in woodwork will show that by unlimited power in cutting, shaping, smoothing, and by the tireless repeat, they have emancipated beauties of wood-nature, making possible, without waste, beautiful surface treatments and clean strong forms that veneers of Sheraton or Chippendale only hinted at with dire extravagance. Beauty unknown even to the Middle Ages. These machines have undoubtedly placed within reach of the designer a technique enabling him to realize the true nature of wood in his designs harmoniously with man's sense of beauty, satisfying his material needs with such extraordinary economy as to put this beauty of wood in use within the reach of every one. But the advantages of the Machines are wasted and we suffer from a riot of aesthetic murder and everywhere live with debased handicraft.
Then, at random, let us take, say, the worker in marbles his gang-saws, planers, pneumatic-chisels and rubbing-beds have made it possible to reduce blocks ten feet long, six feet deep, and two feet thick to sheets or thin slabs an inch in thickness within a few hours, so it is now possible to use a precious material as ordinary wall covering. The slab may be turned and matched at the edges to develop exquisite pattern, emancipating hundreds of superficial feet of characteristic drawing in pure marble colors that formerly wasted in the heart of a great expensive block in the thickness of the wall. Here again a distinctly new architectural use may bring out a beauty of marbles consistent with Nature and impossible to handicraft. But what happens? The "Artist" persists in taking dishonest advantage of this practice, building up imitations of solid piers with moulded caps and bases, cunningly uniting the slabs at the edge until detection is difficult except to the trained eye. His method does not change to develop the beauty of a new technical possibility; no, the "Artist" is simply enabled to "fake" more architecture, make more piers and column shafts because he can now make them hollow! His architecture becomes no more worthy in itself than the cheap faker that he himself is, for his classical forms not only falsify the method which used to be and belie the method that is, but they cheat progress of its due. For convincing evidence see any Public Library or Art Institute, the Congressional Library at Washington, or the Boston Library.
In the stone-cutting trade the stone-planer has made it possible to cut upon stone any given moulded surface, or to ingrain upon that surface any lovely texture the cunning brain may devise, and do it as it never was possible to do it by hand. What is it doing? Giving us as near an imitation of hand tooth-chiselling as possible, imitating mouldings specially adapted to wood, making possible the lavish use of miles of meaningless moulded string courses, cornices, base courses the giant power meanwhile sneered at by the "Artist" because it fails to render the wavering delicacy of "touch" resulting from the imperfections of hand-work.
No architect, this man ! No or he would excel that "antique" quality by the design of the contour of his sections, making a telling point of the very perfection he dreads, and so sensibly designing, for the prolific dexterity of the machine, work which it can do so well that hand-work would seem insufferably crude by comparison. The deadly facility this one machine has given "book architecture" is rivalled only by the facility given to it by galvanized iron itself. And if, incontinently, you will still have tracery in stone, you may arrive at acres of it now consistently with the economy of other features of this still fundamental "trade." You may try to imitate the hand-carving of the ancients in this matter, baffled by the craft and tenderness of the originals, or you may give the pneumatic chisel and power-plane suitable work to do which would mean a changed style, a shift in the spiritual center of the ideal now controlling the use of stone in constructing modern stone-buildings.
You will find in studying the group of ancient materials, wood and stone foremost among them, that they have all been rendered fit for plastic use by the Machine! The Machine itself steadily making available for economic use the very quality in these things now needed to satisfy its own art equation.
Burned clay we call it Terra Cotta is another conspicuous instance of the advantage of the "process." Modern machines (and a process is a machine) have rendered this material as sensitive to the creative brain as a dry plate is to the lens of the camera. A marvellous simplifier, this material, rightly used. The artist is enabled to clothe the steel structure, now becoming characteristic of this era, with modestly beautiful, plastic robes instead of five or more different kinds of material now aggregated in confused features and parts, "composed" and supposedly picturesque, but really a species of cheap millinery to be mocked and warped by the sun, eventually beaten by wind and rain into a variegated heap of trash. But when these great possibilities of simplicity, the gift of the Machine, get to us by way of the Architect, we have only a base imitation of the hand-tooled blocks pilaster-cap and base, voussoirs and carved spandrils of the laborious man-handled stonecrop of an ancient people's architecture!
The modern processes of casting in metal are modern machines too, approaching perfection, capable of perpetuating the imagery of the most vividly poetic mind without hindrance putting permanence and grace within reach of every one, heretofore forced to sit supine with the Italians at their Belshazzar-feast of "Renaissance." Yes, without exaggeration, multitudes of processes, many new, more coming, await sympathetic interpretation, such as the galvano-plastic and its electrical brethren a prolific horde, now cheap fakers imitating "real" bronzes and all manner of metallic antiques, secretly damning all of them in their vitals, if not openly giving them away. And there is electro-glazing, shunned because its straight lines in glasswork are too severely clean and delicate. Straight lines it seems are not so susceptible to the traditional designer's lack of touch. Stream lines and straight lines are to him severely unbeautiful. "Curved is the line of beauty" says he! As though Nature would not know what to do with its own rectilinear!
The familiar lithograph, too, is the prince of an entire province of new reproductive but unproductive processes. Each and every one have their individualities and therefore have possibilities of their own. See what Whistler made and the Germans are making of the lithograph: one note sounded in the gamut of its possibilities. But that note rings true to process as the sheen of the butterfly's wing to that wing. Yet, having fallen into disrepute, the most this particular "machine" did for us, until Whistler picked it up,
was to give us the cheap imitative effects of painting, mostly for advertising purposes. This is the use made of machinery in the abuse of materials by men. And still more important than all we have yet discussed here is the new element entering industry in this material we call steel. The structural necessity which once shaped Parthenons, Pantheons, Cathedrals, is fast being reduced by the Machine to a skeleton of steel or its equivalent, complete in itself without the Artist-Craftsman's touch. They are now building Gothic Cathedrals in California upon a steel skeleton. Is it not easy to see that the myriad ways of satisfying ancient structural necessities known to us through the books as the art of building, vanish, become History? The mainspring of their physical existence now removed, their spiritual center has shifted and nothing remains but the impassive features of a dead face. Such is our "Classic" architecture.
For centuries this insensate or insane abuse of great opportunity in the name of Culture has made cleanly, strengthy and true simplicity impossible in Art or Architecture, whereas now we might reach the heights of creative Art. Rightly used the very curse Machinery puts upon handicraft should emancipate the artist from temptation to petty structural deceit and end this wearisome struggle to make things seem what they are not and can never be. Then the Machine itself, eventually, will satisfy the simple terms of its modern art equation as the ball of clay in the sculptor's hand yields to his desire ending forever this nostalgic masquerade led by a stultified Culture in the Name of Art.
Yes though he does not know it, the Artist is now free to work his rational will with freedom unknown to structural tradition. Units of construction have enlarged, rhythms have been simplified and etherealized, space is more spacious and the sense of it may enter into every building, great or small. The Architect is no longer. hampered by the stone arch of the Romans or by the stone beam of the Greeks. Why then does he cling to the grammatical phrases of those ancient methods of construction when such phrases are in his modern work empty lies, and himself an inevitable liar as well.
Already, as we stand today, the Machine has weakened the artist to the point of destruction and antiquated the craftsman altogether. Earlier forms of Art are by abuse all but destroyed. The whole matter has been reduced to mere pose. Instead of joyful creation we have all around about us poisonous tastes foolish attitudes. With some little of the flame of the old love, and creditable but pitiful enthusiasm, the young artist still keeps on working, making miserable mischief with lofty motives: perhaps, because his heart has not kept in touch or in sympathy with his scientific brother's head, being out of step with the forward marching of his own time.
Now, let us remember in forming this new Arts and Crafts Society at Hull House that every people has done its work, therefore evolved its Art as an expression of its own life, using the best tools; and that means the most economic and effective tools or contrivances it knew: the tools most successful in saving valuable human effort. The chattel slave was the essential tool of Greek civilization, therefore of its Art. We have discarded this tool and would refuse the return of the Art of the Greeks were slavery the terms of its restoration, and slavery, in some form, would be the terms.
But in Grecian Art two flowers did find spiritual expression the Acanthus and the Honeysuckle. In the Art of Egypt similarly we see the Papyrus, the Lotus. In Japan the Chrysanthemum and many other flowers. The Art of the Occident has made no such sympathetic interpretation since that time, with due credit given to the English Rose and the French Fleur-de-Lys, and as things are now the West may never make one. But to get from some native plant an expression of its native character in terms of imperishable stone to be fitted perfectly to its place in structure, and without loss of vital significance, is one great phase of great Art. It means that Greek or Egyptian found a revelation of the inmost life and character of the Lotus and Acanthus in terms of Lotus or Acanthus Life. That was what happened when the Art of these people had done with the plants they most loved. This imaginative process is known only to the creative Artist. Conventionalization, it is called. Really it is the dramatizing of an object truest "drama." To enlarge upon this simple figure, as an Artist, it seems to me that this complex matter of civilization is itself at bottom some such conventionalizing process, or must be so to be successful and endure.
Just as any Artist-Craftsman, wishing to use a beloved flower for the stone capital of a column-shaft in his building must conventionalize the flower, that is, find the pattern of its life-principle in terms of stone as a material before he can rightly use it as a beautiful factor in his building, so education must take the natural man, to "civilize" him. And this great new power of the dangerous Machine we must learn to understand and then learn to use as this valuable, "conventionalizing" agent. But in the construction of a Society as in the construction of a great building, the elemental conventionalizing process is dangerous, for without the inspiration or inner light of the true Artist the quality of the flower its very life is lost, leaving a withered husk in the place of living expression.
Therefore, Society, in this conventionalizing process or Culture, has a task even more dangerous than has the Architect in creating his building forms, because instead of having a plant-leaf and a fixed material as ancient architecture had, we have a sentient man with a fluid soul. So without the inner light of a sound philosophy of Art (the Educator too, must now be Artist), the life of the man will be sacrificed and Society gain an automaton or a machine-made moron instead of a noble creative Citizen!
If education is doomed to fail in this process, utterly then the man slips back to rudimentary animalism or goes on into decay. Society degenerates or has a mere realistic creature instead of the idealistic creator needed. The world will have to record more "great dead cities."
To keep the Artist-figure of the flower dramatized for human purposes the Socialist would bow his neck in altruistic submission to the "Harmonious" whole; his conventionalization or dramatization of the human being would be like a poor stone-craftsman's attempt to conventionalize the beloved plant with the living character of leaf and flower left out. The Anarchist would pluck the flower as it grows and use it as it is for what it is with essential reality left out.
The Hereditary Aristocrat has always justified his existence by his ability, owing to fortunate propinquity, to appropriate the flower to his own uses after the craftsman has given it life and character, and has kept the craftsman too by promising him his flower back if he behaves himself well. The Plutocrat does virtually the same thing by means of "interests." But the true Democrat will take the human plant as it grows and in the spirit of using the means at hand to put life into his conventionalization preserve the individuality of the plant to protect the flower, which is its very life, getting from both a living expression of essential man-character fitted perfectly to a place in Society with no loss of vital significance. Fine Art is this flower of the Man. When Education has become creative and Art again prophetic of the natural means by which we are to grow we call it "progress" we will, by means of the Creative Artist, possess this monstrous tool of our civilization as it now possesses us.
Grasp and use the power of scientific automatons in this creative sense and their terrible forces are not antagonistic to any fine individualistic quality in man. He will find their collective mechanistic forces capable of bringing to the individual a more adequate life, and the outward expression of the inner man as seen in his environment will be genuine revelation of his inner life and higher purpose. Not until then will America be free!
This new American Liberty is of the sort that declares man free only when he has found his work and effective means to achieve a life of his own. The means once found, he will find his due place. The man of our country will thus make his own way, and grow to the natural place thus due him, promised yes, promised by our charter, the Declaration of Independence. But this place of his is not to be made over to fit him by reform, nor shall it be brought
own to him by concession, but will become his by his own use of the means at hand. He must himself build a new world. The day of the individual is not over instead, it is just about to begin. The Machine does not write the doom of Liberty, but is-waiting at man's hand as a peerless tool, for him to use to put foundations beneath a genuine Democracy. Then the Machine may conquer human drudgery to some purpose, taking it upon itself to broaden, lengthen, strengthen and deepen the life of the simplest man. What limits do we dare imagine to an Art that is organic fruit of an adequate life for the 'individual ! Although this power is now murderous, chained to botch-work and bunglers' ambitions, the creative Artist will take it surely into his hand and, in the name of Liberty, swiftly undo the deadly mischief it has created.
. . . . . . . . .
Here ends the early discourse on the Art and Craft of the Machine.
You may find comfort in the reflection that Truth and Liberty have this invincible excellence, that all man does for them or does against them eventually serves them equally well. That fact has comforted me all the intervening years between the first reading of the foregoing discourse and this reading at Princeton . . . the last reading, for I shall never read it again. Tomorrow afternoon there will be I am afraid heavy matter also because the question of qualifying the "Machine-made" in American Industries by human elements of STYLE will be, in detail, our subject. There may be matter more subjective and difficult but I do not know what it may be. It will be necessary for us all to give close attention and considerable thought to the subject, "STYLE IN INDUSTRY." We shall see that any hope of such style will mean a crusade against the STYLES.