Design reformers in the late 19th century, outraged by the era's glut of shoddy mass-produced furniture, set up workshops that functioned largely without machinery. Often living in utopian communes, these artists supported themselves by creating luxurious, impractical goods: ebony furniture inlaid with abalone, necklaces of polished moonstones, and letterpress books about medieval chivalry. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd.; 323/857-6000; www.lacma.org; through April 3) has gathered 300 examples of work from 12 countries for "The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880-1920: Design for the Modern World." Aside from a few household names like Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany, most of the artisans are little known outside their homelands, such as the Norwegian Frida Hansen, a weaver of tapestries in a delicate archaic style.
—Eve M. Kahn
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