John Ruskin (England, 1819-1900)

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” John Ruskin is possibly best remembered for his contribution as an art critic but within the discipline of architecture, Ruskin reawakened an interest in the heavy, elaborate forms of Gothic architecture and rebelled against the formal, classical styles of his time. Ruskin disdained that which was machine-made and had a deep abiding respect for craftsmanship which had a great influence on the burgeoning Arts & Crafts movement. Ruskin’s ideas were the precursors of interest in environmentalism and sustainability. Ruskin’s impact on future architecture and ideas was formidable. He helped to shape the ideas of some of the most influential architects like William Morris, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius. Through these architects, Ruskin’s contribution to the arts and crafts movement can be seen. Ruskin advanced, at the time, revolutionary ideas about preservation of open spaces and conservation of historic buildings. He was a lauded and prolific writer and critic but had his hand firmly in many other disciplines including poetry, science, philosophy, art and environmentalism. Much like the Arts & Crafts philosophers, Ruskin disliked industrialization and opposed the use of machine-made materials. John Ruskin challenged and decried the ideas of formal, classical art and architecture. He advanced the at times asymmetrical, rough architecture of medieval Europe. His ideas and workannounced the Gothic Revival movement in England and set the stage for the Arts & Crafts movement in England and the United States.

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