“Nancy Owen’s study shows that art and aesthetics are molded by the society that supports them, not the other way around.”
Anita Ellis, Chief Curator, Cincinnati Museum of Art and author of Rookwood Pottery: The Glaze Lines
Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati—the largest, longest-lasting, and arguably most important American Art Pottery—reflected the country's cultural and commercial milieux in the production, marketing, and consumption of its own products.
Rookwood and the Industry of Art is a critical appreciation of Rookwood's rise to its commercial pinnacle, assessing the labor practices and production of ceramic ware as a way to explore anxiety about women's roles outside the home as well as about industrialization, immigration, and urbanization.
In this illustrated study, Nancy Owen analyzes the discrepancies between the concepts of fine art and culture and the managerial positioning of the firm as “an artist's studio, not a factory.” Owen also looks at the meaning of Americanness as portrayed in the choices of decoration and in the marketing campaigns that sought to elevate the ceramic ware to an artform.
For the collector as well as the cultural historian, Rookwood and the Industry of Art is a revealing and sensitive treatment of this uniquely American commercial and artistic phenomenon.
Nancy E. Owen is a lecturer in American art and women's studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She lives on the north shore of Chicago with her husband, Bill James.
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