In Their Words

Annie Putnam on 'The danger of Standards'

Read Aloud

Therein lies the danger of 'Standards.' The machine standard which stands for accuracy and perfect finish has to me disastrously affected the handiwork of today. I have seen many beautiful things in Museums that would never be accepted by the Boston Arts and Crafts Society. Draw some of the beautiful old borders on the metalwork of India and Persia accurately and you destroy the beauty and vitality in them.

Annie C. Putnam letter to the Jury of the Society of Arts and Crafts Boston, March 14, 1908, SACB Papers, Archives of American Art. Quoted in Brandt, The Craftsman and the Critic, p. 177.

In a complaint made to the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, metalworker Annie Putnam argued that, "To me the Jury is trying to make all keys fit the same keyhole." She, like her fellow metalworker Madeline Yale Wynne, believed that an individual artist's freedom of expression was as(or more) important than an a works' relationship to a predetermined 'Standard.'