A Vogue for Rustic
The late 19th century was characterized by rapid industrialization and urbanization that transformed the landscape and lifestyle of the United States. In part reacting to this new emphasis on technology, some American designers and craftspeople embraced the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, celebrating natural materials and traditional techniques rather than the rise of the machine and its counterpart, the city. As places such as New York City and Boston grew, fashionable urbanites in search of respite retreated to rural escapes, and new suburban dwellers attempted to reconcile the opportunities of the city with the dream of living in the country. This “rediscovery” of the American wilderness, characterized at the turn of the century by popular figures including Theodore Roosevelt, ignited a vogue for rusticity that appears throughout the arts of the era. Artists and designers utilized a variety of themes, foremost among them the use (or imitation) of natural materials, to evoke the simplicity and bucolic beauty of a vanishing region.
Samantha Robinson, DMA unpublished material, Gallery text, 2014.