Journal Article

Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft


in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 11, issue 1, pages 5-13
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
Walter Benjamin: Traces of Craft

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This paper considers Walter Benjamin's theory of the object in the industrial age. Benjamin's work is replete with images of craft practices. Pot-throwing and weaving appear as paradigms of authentic experience and the processes of memory. Prominent in Benjamin's account of craft practice is the hand that feels and marks its objects; authentic knowledge of the world is envisioned as a ‘grasping hold’ of the world. The shift from artisan labour to industrial labour, with its growing redundancy of the hand in the processes of production, impacts on modes of memory and experience. Benjamin's delineation of modern, industrialized experience is shown to be redemptive. He re-evaluates Dada and photography as manual craft processes that might rediscover a modern authenticity of experience and memory

Keywords: Walter Benjamin; hand; industrial organization; material culture studies; Modernism; technique

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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