Art and craft

More on “Is it art?” But this time it’s not art vs.porn, but art vs. craft. From the NYT Magazine‘s annual “The Lives They Lived”issue, a piece on sculptor Ruth Asawa: “The subversively “domestic” artist”, by Robert Sullivan:

Less than five years after graduating from Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, Ruth Asawa’s industrial-wire sculptures were getting notice in the national press, though invariably her pieces were dismissed as women’s craft work, as opposed to art. “These are ‘domestic’ sculptures in a feminine, handiwork mode,” ArtNews said in 1956. Such critiques masked her relentless subversiveness. After dark, on March 18, 1968, she installed her first public sculpture, in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco: two mermaids in a fountain, one nursing a merbaby.

… The landscape architect in charge of the square’s renovation, Lawrence Halprin, described the sculpture as a suburban lawn ornament and sought to replace it with a modernist abstraction — a 15-foot shaft. San Franciscans, especially women, successfully rallied behind Asawa.

One of Asawa’s pieces:

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