Affordable Arts Fair
The industrial production of decorative applied arts objects used to enhance daily life and the interiors of homes. Such objects include items of clothing, fabrics for clothing and upholstery; machine-made carpets and rugs; furniture; decorative glassware, porcelain, and faïence; and objects made of metal, including jewelry.
The art industry produces widely used articles such as fabrics, glassware, china, and metalware. However, articles produced by the art industry differ from other articles used in the home (and often manufactured in the same enterprises) in their distinctive and original shape, ornamentation, and color and are often true works of decorative applied art.
The originality of the artist who creates the design of an object is of great importance in the art industry. The given object is manufactured by means of lot production or mass production, under the control of the designer and with the participation of a group of artists, engineers, technicians, and workers. The basis of the technological process is machine production, for example, the mechanical equipment and automatic looms at carpet combines, and the printers and jacquard apparatus at textile factories. Nevertheless, many enterprises of the art industry still make considerable use of manual labor, although most of the manufacturing processes are mechanized and even automated. Examples are faceting with diamond dies and making specialized objects of blown glass at glass factories, and the painting of porcelain and faïence. On the whole, however, it is the intensive use of machines that distinguishes art industry enterprises from those for the production of folk handicrafts, in which manual labor predominates.
The separation of the art industry from handicrafts and its transformation into a separate branch of industry resulted from the growth of feudal cities and the evolution of guilds and corporations of craftsmen, including gunsmiths, weavers, and jewelers. The development of manufacturing in the 16th and 17th centuries stimulated the emergence of new types of decorative applied arts objects and changed the methods of making them, increasingly separating the development of the design from the manufacturing process.
In Europe the manufacturing of decorative fabrics and of glassware and ceramics were the branches of the art industry that developed most rapidly. The most important early centers for the production of decorative fabrics were the cities of northern and central Italy and of Flanders and Brabant; the centers of the glassware and ceramics industries were Venice and Faenza. Meissen and Sèvres porcelain and Wedgwood ware were manufactured in Europe beginning in the 18th century. In the 18th century and the early 19th century the production of decorative arts objects developed intensively in Russia, as witnessed by the manufacture of porcelain at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, the dressing of stones at the Petergof Lapidary Works, and the establishment of the Demidov stone-cutting factories in the Urals.
In the countries of the East, whose way of life was medieval until the 19th and 20th centuries, the production of decorative arts objects remained at the handicraft level for a long time.
With the establishment of capitalist production, industrial methods of manufacturing were gradually introduced into many branches of the art industry. The industrial revolution of the 18th century and the early 19th century was accompanied by a wider availability of decorative arts objects: in addition to the manufacture of expensive silk and brocade fabrics, the production of cotton cloth and printed calico expanded rapidly. However, the quality of decorative arts objects declined sharply.
Handicrafts were replaced by factorymade objects owing to the lower prices of such objects, but the manufactured goods were inferior imitations of handmade decorative arts objects and banal in
In the second half of the 19th century such artists and theorists as J. Ruskin and W. Morris in Great Britain considered machine production hostile to art; they advanced a Utopian idea of improving the quality of decorative arts objects by returning to the handicraft methods of the Middle Ages. The late 19th century and the early 20th century witnessed a trend marked by the involvement of artists in industry, as seen in the establishment of such organizations of artists and industrialists as the Deutscher Werkbund. This trend overcame the earlier nihilist attitude toward the relationship between machines and art, led to the emergence of industrial design, and helped overcome the antagonism between artistic creativity and machine production.
After World War I (1914–18), the products of the art industry were influenced by functionalism, for example, the decorative arts objects made in the Bauhaus workshops. In the Soviet art industry of the 1920’s, constructivism and the concepts of industrial art were linked with illusory Utopian attempts to create a special proletarian style of decorative arts objects. The party’s criticism of the program and practice of the Proletkul’t promoted the establishment of a culture that was socialist in content and national in form, which was also reflected in the art industry.
By the mid-20th century, technological progress had again, as in the 1920’s, led to an enthusiasm for a technological approach, to an antagonism between design and decorative art, to a denial of national decorative and ornamental art, and to the popularization and introduction of a simplified and functional approach to decorative arts objects. These developments were reflected in the use of shelving, smooth surfaces, and well-defined geometric shapes. Glassware imitated pharmaceutical utensils, and porcelain was freed of ornamentation. However, since the late 1960’s ideological content, diversity of shape, and ornamentation have returned to the art industry. There is an increasing tendency to imitate ancient handicraft methods by means of machine processes. Efforts to re-create early patterns and styles are always accompanied by a quest for new functional forms.
The very first edition of the Affordable Art Fair launched in London’s Battersea Park in October 1999. 10,000 art lovers descended upon the fair to browse and buy 1000s of original contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints in a relaxed and friendly environment. We now welcome over 185,000 art enthusiasts each year to our fairs globally, where they can take their pick from a mix of local, national and international galleries showcasing a wide array of affordable artworks by established artists and rising stars.
Fairs in are held 10 cities around the world including London, New York, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Brussels, Singapore, Milan, Stockholm and Melbourne. Each fair is filled with a creative smorgasbord of artist performances, innovative talks and tours, hands-on workshops, kid’s activities, live music and irresistible restaurants and bars; making them an ideal day out with family and friends. It’s no wonder that since our humble beginnings, over 2.5 million people have visited an Affordable Art Fair, taking home over 485,000 pieces of artwork to loving new homes.
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