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Is there a difference between art and craft? - Laura Morelli


20,177 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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Was da Vinci an artistic genius? Sure, but he was also born in the right place at the right time -- pre-Renaissance, Western artists got little individual credit for their work. And in many non-Western cultures, traditional forms have always been prized over innovation. So, where do we get our notions of art vs. craft? Laura Morelli traces the history of how we assign value to the visual arts.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Is it a Pot or a Picasso?
Examine the museum floor plans of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, or the Art Institute of Chicago. How are the collections organized? Does the organization of objects in these museums reflect a division between art and craft? How does the physical organization of objects impact our understanding and interpretation of the collections? Does one gallery seem more important than another? Why or why not?
Which words to use?
According to Ogden’s Basic English, you can achieve essential communication in any language with knowledge of as few as 800 words. That’s approximately how many words are in the glossary of many of today’s commonly used art history textbooks! Browse through ArtLex, an online art dictionary that counts some 3,600 art history words. How does our use of art history terms shape our classification of objects? Which art history terms carry value judgments along with them?

Focus on the future?
Since the Renaissance, western culture has placed a premium value on innovation. While artistic innovators sometimes seem to attract the limelight, traditional arts are still being practiced all around the world today. Even in Italy, the birthplace of Renaissance humanism, traditions like Murano glass, ceramics, and leather working still flourish, and are still highly valued. To learn more about living traditions around the world, read the column “The Genuine Article” at National Geographic Traveler. Visit the blog at to see additional examples of contemporary makers following centuries-old artistic traditions.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Laura Morelli
  • Director Sandro Katamashvili
  • Animator Gogi Kamushadze
  • Narrator Laura Morelli

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