How craftsmanship became a force in the art market

The line between fine arts and craftsmanship has been blurring for decades. Once closely watched by art historians, curators and critics – who, as scholar Terry Smith once said, generally dismissed craftsmanship as “intimately associated with the hand, with the touch”, everything by associating art with more engaging activities such as “ideas, suggestions, concepts”. – the boundaries between painting, ceramics, weaving, drawing, glassblowing, printmaking and other processes and practices are now porous if not completely obsolete. This is evident from a visit to most major art museums where, increasingly, textiles share wall space with abstract paintings and glass, and clay sculptures sit on pedestals alongside bronzes. . Over the past decade, this leveling of artistic disciplines has also reached the art market, with collectors, galleries, fairs and auction houses embracing craftsmanship.

According to ‘The Market for Craft’, a report published last year by the Crafts Council, a non-profit organization promoting crafts in the UK and internationally, the total value of crafts sold for nothing than in England has more than tripled in the past 13 years, from £883m ($1.7bn) in 2006 to over £3bn ($3.9bn) in 2019 Craft’s transition from devalued fringe to a major force in the art market was fueled by a convergence of factors from within the art world and beyond.

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