william morris, anthony ward

Peças de vidro criadas por Phillip Webb para William Morris
Peças de vidro criadas por Phillip Webb para William Morris

Comentários do pesquisador britânico Anthony Ward sobre William Morris. O grifo é meu.

William Morris and Class Suicide

William Morris, the nineteenth-century British designer who wrote about the symbiosis of power and aesthetics, politics and art, was a formidable design theorist whose struggle over the ideology of the aesthetic has been denied. We know Morris the poet; Morris the advocate of Neo-Gothic revivalism; Morris the inspiration of the Arts and Crafts Movement; Morris the designer of beautiful tapestries, carpets, paintings, glassware, and publications; and Morris the producer of exquisite commodities. But William Morris, the tireless advocate of revolutionary socialism, the ceaseless propagandist, street-corner agitator, writer, lecturer, socialist theorist, friend of Friedrich Engels, avowed communist, and much-loved servant of the working people — this William Morris is a different creature, strange, and barely believable. This aspect of his theories was rarely recorded in design history books. He has been mistakenly branded as an escapist, a Gothic revivalist longing for some unrecoverable medieval paradise. On the contrary, steeped as he was in the history of precapitalist society and the role of work in creative life, his aim in the 1850s was to create conditions of empowerment for the masses, and his strategy was to reawaken and popularize the lost crafts of an earlier era in order to put the workers once again in control of the means of building production. He was the first modern designer to recognize that design had a role to play in the movement for emancipation and to demystify the role of economics in shaping aesthetic values, noting that “it is impossible to exclude socio-political questions from the consideration of aesthetics.” (“The Revival of Handicraft”)

Moved by the disparities of wealth and poverty around him, Morris knew that he had no moral choice but to align himself with the oppressed. “How can we of the middle classes, we the capitalists, and our hangers-on help the workers? By renouncing our class, and on all occasions when antagonism rises up between the classes casting our lot with the victims […] There is no other way: and this way, I tell you plainly, will in the long run give us plenty of occasion for self-sacrifice.” (“Art and Socialism”) He was able to risk and then suffer the inevitable rejection that resulted from his own repudiation of his class of origin because of his disgust that his services were available only to the wealthy who used his designs as symbols of social distinction by which to articulate their class superiority. Himself a member of that wealthy class which he was moved to criticize and by which he was later attacked, Morris took the step that the logic of his political analysis dictated, crossing “the river of fire” and committing what world-renowed pedagogue Paulo Freire would later call “class suicide.”

WARD, Anthony. “The suppression of the Social in Design: Architecture as War” in MANN, Lian; DUTTON, Thomas. Reconstructing Architecture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996, pp. 31–32

As observações são relevantes, mas uma certa separação forçada entre a instância “estética” e a “social” (ou “técnica”) da obra de arquitetura me pareceu recorrente nesta passagem e em outras do texto: dá a impressão de que qualquer movimentação ou especulação formal seja antagônica à necessidade de responder à conjuntura social presente. A própria obra de Morris, porém, indica um caminho para especulação transformadora que não ignore a impossibilidade de separar “forma” e “conteúdo” (na frase grifada acima: On the contrary, steeped as he was in the history of precapitalist society and the role of work in creative life, his aim in the 1850s was to create conditions of empowerment for the masses […] to put the workers once again in control of the means of building production.)

O artigo consta do mesmo livro citado na postagem anos 90, pós-modernidade, arquitetura.

William Morris, tapeçaria

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