By Christopher Crouch
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Additional resources for Modernism in Art, Design and Architecture
The intention, like man y another was excellent; but the fact remains that, except for examination purposes, the work done by Kensington students is useless. A design for a piece of wall paper, for which a Kensington student is awarded a medal, is almost sure to prove abortive when put to a practical test ... That is the pitfall into which the Kensington student falls; he cannot make practical application of his knowledge . i'' Even allowing for the hyperbole that Moore is using to make his point, it is clear that the system devised by Cole was by no means well-lo ved.
This process of course still relied on a notion of what was 'good' and what was 'bad', but the decision -making about such things was slowly becoming more socially dispersed, not just in Britain, but throughout the industrialised world. The great gap between the theoretical and the practical in design was a real one. It was identified by those in the Arts and Crafts movement who filled the gap with guild associations; this approach was taken still further in the 1890s with the establishment of educational institutions teaching integrated design courses.
Sometimes the appearance of an object, its clean geometric lines, belied its impossibility of use. The social context in which art found itself was of great importance to these artists. The ideas of Marx, that the purpose of philosophy was not to interpret but to change the world, found many echoes in the practice of art and design. Many designers saw their role as emancipating themselves, and art practice, from the whims of the history of aesthetics , and in the words of Hannes Meyer 'the art of felt imitation is in the process of being dismantled.
Modernism in Art, Design and Architecture by Christopher Crouch