Wrought Iron Candle Stand Lamp

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art--Taking Shape: Recent Acquisitions in the Fine Art of Craft

This week the Daily Palette is celebrating Taking Shape: Recent Acquisitions in the Fine Art of Craft, an exhibition of decorative arts at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). This show, on view through February 23, 2014, brings together more than 80 extraordinary works of art in ceramics, glass, wood, and metal from the CRMA collection.

Taking Shape explores the shifting nature of the decorative arts and the play between utilitarian and sculptural qualities. During the past 30 years, the debate over the distinction between the fine arts and craft has been a contentious one. Some artists and scholars have dismissed the arenas of glass, jewelry, wood turning, and pottery as not the work of artists, but artisans. Their utilitarian functions have frequently been the characteristic cited for this differentiation. However, craft artists have been redefining these media, and many pieces created within these areas are not functional but sculptural. At the same time, other craft artists have worked diligently to advance the idea that a functional piece can also be aesthetically beautiful, much in the same way that a painting, sculpture, or print can be.

The CRMA embraces the traditional "crafts" as works of art and has been actively adding them to the collection. Taking Shape displays some of the Museum's recent acquisitions in this field, and underscores that while all these works celebrate shape, the collection in this area is also taking shape.

Wrought Iron Candle Stand Lamp, wrought iron, 63" high, c. 1920

Museum purchase, Charles Lamson Hoffman Family Fund, 2012.042

Grant Wood (1891-1942), Iowa's most famous artist, was born in Anamosa and grew up in Cedar Rapids.  He founded the Stone City Art Colony in Stone City, Iowa, which operated during the summers of 1932 and 1933.  After studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Academie Julian in Paris, he taught art in Cedar Rapids and later at the University of Iowa from 1935 to 1940.  A member of the well-known triumvirate of regionalist painters from the Midwest, alongside Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, Wood focused on scenes of small town life during the 1930s when the country called for nationalistic images that would appeal to the average American.  Wood also worked in a variety of other media: he designed stained glass windows and jewelry; he made ceramics, sculptures assembled out of found objects, and prints; he worked in wood; and as can be seen here, he worked with metal to design various objects such as chandeliers and candle stand lamps.

Image and exhibition summary courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

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on February 05, 2014

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