I am troubled by the introduction of the term “crafts” into the critical vocabulary, used pejoratively in the description of certain works of art. The term “craft” is being applied to works made from unorthodox materials which have been used, however, by many artists in recent years. I had thought that the materials war had been fought and won by this time, but it seems that I am mistaken. An attitude seems to be surfacing that desires a return to oil paint and stone carving, which can be more easily dealt with critically.

The Oxford English Dictionary (Compact edition, 1971) defines “craft” as “intellectual power, skill, art,” explaining that “art and craft were formerly synonymous and had a nearly parallel sense-development, though they diverge in their leading modern sense.” Another definition given is “an art, trade, or profession requiring special skill and knowledge, especially

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.