By The New York Times
Romantic artists of the 19th century viewed the Industrial Revolution with wary skepticism, if not fear and loathing. That machines might replace skilled artisans and fill the world with affordable but ugly, poorly made junk was a disheartening prospect. So in late-19th-century England the Arts and Crafts movement developed, and in Vienna the Wiener Werkstätte was born. Both promoted the viability of good design and fine craftsmanship in the modern world.
Neither effort was economically successful in the long run, but the artists and craftsmen did deliver on their promise to produce soulful, enduringly beautiful and useful objects — from pottery, book bindings and glassware to furniture and whole houses.
Just how beautiful the products could be is demonstrated in an exhibition at the Neue Galerie focusing on jewelry from the Wiener Werkstätte (literally, Vienna Workshops). This visually stunning show of about 40 pieces was organized by Janis Staggs, assistant curator at the museum.
The exhibition runs through June 30 at the Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street, (212)<133>628-6200, neuegalerie.org.