Integrity and Reform: the Aesthetic Movement to Arts and Crafts (c1860-1890) – Vivienne Lawes

The Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts movements of the second half of the 19th Century were a reaction to the hotchpotch of revivalist styles that had arguably found their ultimate expression in the Great Exhibition of 1851. They were cohesive in their stand against industrial production in favour of a purist approach to design but differed in their ethos: the Aesthetic Movement took the amoral standpoint of ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ revelling in beauty without the need for edification; the Arts & Crafts movement, under the intellectual leadership of William Morris, took the socially and politically engaged position of regarding artworks and utilitarian products as the embodiment of honesty and integrity. This lecture explores the visual characteristics that define each movement, while mapping the belief systems that inspired them.

Vivienne Lawes

Studied History/History of Art at York University, followed by an MA in Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute, London. A lecturer, writer and curator, working in the visual arts field for the last 25 years; teaches at several institutions in London. Faculty staff member at the City & Guilds of London Art School, teaching History of Decorative Style c. 1400-1950 and the Classical Tradition in Western Sculpture; also lectures on 17th and 18th century East-West trade, and modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art at Sotheby’s Institute and the Institut d’Etudes Supérieures des Arts (IESA), London. Senior UK Consultant for One East Asia, a Singapore-based art gallery, art advisory and education centre, and has co-curated regular exhibitions of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art in London since 2011. Writes as an arts journalist for publications including The Art Newspaper, Art + Auction, Country Life, the Guardian and the Antiques Trade Gazette. Author of a forthcoming book, Horse: a History of Equine Bronze Sculpture, to be published by the Sladmore Gallery, London. Currently working part-time towards a PhD at the University of East Anglia on the teaching practices and institutional developments in post-war British art school education.