I love the oft-quoted William Morris line: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It’s been a guiding principle for me…a litmus test for things that are in our house. But a lesser-known quote has had a powerful impact too…“If you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art and reject it.”
On a subconscious level I suppose that’s why I didn’t like the egg thing I bought recently to resell. Hand-painted butterflies and bugs on a big ceramic egg? It seems gimmicky and wrong somehow.
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized there’s so much sham art around! Maybe you wouldn’t call it art, but it is designed and people buy it and display it. For example, for $99 you can get this weird crystal snowman with a city in his belly or for $22 this ridiculous singing fish plaque. Both make me cringe.
Then I got thinking that maybe most sham art is just in a certain price range to appeal to a certain type of person…then I found this box. It’s made by a famous designer and costs $15,500. At this price it must be good. But I keep looking at it and looking at it, and, it just looks wrong. To me this is just as sham as the snowman. I’d rather have all these stones in a bowl on a table.
To be honest, I’m not sure I know what real art is, but I am drawn to items that show a level of craftsmanship, quality and enduring style…whether it’s an antique embroidered piano shawl, a handmade wood bowl or a well-designed sterling silver purse.
These are the things I want in my house. So thank you William Morris for your thoughts and inspiration. (If you’re not familiar with his work just google “William Morris textiles.” You’re in for a treat.)
Would love to hear your thoughts on real art vs. sham art!