How Craft Became an Art Market Force

The dividing line between fine art and craft has been unraveling for decades. Once closely guarded by art historians, curators, and critics—who, as the scholar Terry Smith once put it, typically dismissed craft as “intimately associated with the hand, touch,” while associating art with headier pursuits like “ideas, suggestions, concepts”—the boundaries separating painting, ceramics, weaving, drawing, glassblowing, printmaking, and other processes and practices are now porous if not completely antiquated. This is plainly clear from visiting most major art museums where, increasingly, textiles share wall space with abstract paintings and glass, and clay sculptures sit on plinths alongside bronzes. In the past decade, this leveling of artistic disciplines has also reached the art market, with collectors, galleries, fairs, and auction houses embracing craft.

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