The Arts & Crafts Movement
Detroit and Environs
IAC’s 25th Annual Arts and Crafts Conference
September 27 – October 1, 2023
Detroit was an important center for the Arts & Crafts Movement in the United States. Pewabic, a major Arts & Crafts pottery, was founded in Detroit in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry (later Stratton) and Horace James Caulkins where it continues to operate to this day. The Movement in Detroit and its environs had strong ties to England: George Booth, a Canadian immigrant of English ancestry, founded the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (DSAC) in 1906. Profoundly influenced by William Morris’s philosophy that all arts receive equal recognition, Booth brought this philosophy to the founding, with Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1925. There, students would learn in keeping with practices of the English Arts & Crafts movement where artists would teach using their own work as examples. Architect Albert Kahn, who left an indelible mark on the built environment of Detroit was another founder of the DSAC.
The city’s wealth, generated largely by manufacturing—not least, by the burgeoning automotive industry beginning in the early 1900s—made possible major commissions from architects such as Kahn and Wirt C. Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls. Work in the Arts & Crafts idiom by Samuel Yellin, E.F. Caldwell, and Pewabic, to cite but three, are often central features of Detroit architecture that might appear to be at odds with the Movement’s essence but nonetheless share attributes central to its tenets, such as cohesiveness.
The powerful spirit of the Movement flourishes in institutions such as Pewabic and Cranbrook, as well as SmithGroup (the successor firm to Smith, Hinchman & Grylls), and in new undertakings to be considered in a future exploration of the city.
IAC thanks the Conference sponsors (as of September 11, 2023):
Barbara Fuldner, The Felicia Fund, The Marie + John Zimmermann Foundation, American Fine Art Magazine, The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, SmithGroup, The Magazine Antiques, Cranbrook, Pewabic, and The Players. IAC is grateful to Heritage Auctions for its sponsorship of the opening session at the Detroit Athletic Club and to Bulova for its sponsorship of the evening session at the Scarab Club.
The Conference is dedicated to Thomas F. Bird (March 30, 1940 – December 26, 2022).