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Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement at The San Diego Museum of Art
Sideboard, designed c. 1902, executed c. 1908. Gustav Stickley, American Craftsman Workshops, c. 1903–1916, manufacturer. Oak, plywood, and iron, 43 108 1/4 26 in. Crab Tree Farm.


SAN DIEGO, CA.- The San Diego Museum of Art presents Gustav Stickley & the American Arts and Crafts Movement, the first nationally touring exhibition to focus on the artist’s career and his contributions to the history of American design and architecture. Ranging from furniture to metalware to embroidered textiles, the majority of the objects on view are from private collections, and three-quarters have never been seen before by the public.

The exhibition examines Stickley’s contributions to the American Arts and Crafts movement and provides new insights into the artistic, commercial, and social context of his entry into the Arts and Crafts realm. Focusing on the years 1900 to 1913, Stickley’s most creative period, the exhibition illuminates the vibrant identity of the “Craftsman” style that Stickley developed and furthered through his furniture and household goods.Stickley offered customers a complete lifestyle based on his philosophy of simple design and quality materials, a philosophy disseminated both through his magazine, The Craftsman, and in his stores. .

One of the exhibition’s highlights is the re-creation of the dining room first displayed in the 1903Arts and Crafts Exhibition organized by Stickley and exhibited in his Syracuse Craftsman Building. Other highlights include an armoire (c.a 1907-1912) that Stickley kept for his private use in the decades after he sold his business, and works showcasing his experimentation with different varnishes, which can still be seen as a patchwork of colors on the undersides of the drawers. Also on view will be a rare armchair (ca. 1903) with copper and wood inlay reflecting Stickley's brief foray into decorated Arts and Crafts furniture influenced by the work of progressive British and Scottish designers.

Stickley (1858-1942) was one of the leading figures in the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. He opened his first furniture company in 1888, partnering with Elgin Simonds to form the Stickley & Simonds Company. A decade later—following his travels to Europe, where he was exposed to progressive furniture designs, including those produced by Liberty of London—Stickley assumed control of the firm, renaming it the Gustav Stickley Company. In 1901, the year following his introduction of a new line of Arts and Crafts furniture, the firm was renamed the United Crafts. It was renamed again as Craftsman Workshops in 1903 and remained so until its dissolution in 1916.

Stickley’s innovative and affordable wares earned him critical and commercial success. His firm’s designs were exhibited at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and included in a pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, where they were seen by thousands of fairgoers. Stickley’s retail network, which eventually included over 100 stores across the United States, sold thousands of pieces of furniture each year, popularizing Stickley’s creations as exemplars of the Arts and Crafts movement.






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