“In traditional art history the line between art and craft was sharply defined. Crafts were always practical, if sometimes beautiful, objects produced by a skilled tradesman. Until the 16th century, both craftsmen and artists were paid according to the labor expended in making an item; with the rise in the status of the artist, however, artworks came to be viewed primarily aesthetically. This division is breaking down as more design and once-practical objects are adopted by the ever-expanding definition of art (e.g., Shaker craft and art, automobile design) and as artists turn to methods once exclusively those of craftspeople (e.g., quiltmaking, as seen in the AIDS memorial quilt or African-American artists working in the quilt medium; furniture design).”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

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