Crystal and Jade
John Taylor Arms (1887-1953) began his education at Princeton University where he studied engineering, but after two years decided to transfer to MIT’s architecture program. Married with a wife and family following the first world war, he worked as an architect for many years and finally became a partner in his own architectural firm. His interest in etching began when his wife had bought him a kit to use as a hobby; this hobby soon turned into a passion, and Arms began etching his way through New York, focusing on the Brooklyn Bridge and cityscapes. After exhausting his interest in New York City scenes, Arms focused more interest on the other side of the Atlantic. He took many trips to Europe and completed series of gargoyles, French cathedrals, Italian cathedrals and Venetian cityscapes. The consistency within these works is found in their intricacy. Using great detail, Arms gave his audience the opportunity to draw intimacy from his works. Since his works are incredibly specific in depicting simple subjects: a gargoyle, a church, an alleyway, the viewer is comfortable looking at the print for a long period of time. The detail enhances the experience. In 1913, he made his first etching and by 1927 began exhibiting his architectural etchings at the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club in New York. He also worked in aquatint and often combined the two mediums. In addition to medieval architecture, he etched scenes of Maine and a series of American cities. One of the most famous print makers of the early 20th century, he was known for his midevil architectural etchings which combined precise realism with a sense of souring spirituality. He believed that gothic architecture was man's greatest achievement, uniting spiritual ans aesthetic values, and was best known for his renderings of gargoyles and European churches. He was remarkably prolific, considering that he worked slowly and deliberatly and spent much of his time traveling, writing, and lecturing. Arms was a member of principal art organizations including the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and he wrote several books on prints and printmaking including "Handbook on Printmaking and Printmakers."