The arts outlive the civilizations that produce them. Governments, social systems, and beliefs come and go, but the arts remain to inform us of times past. Art makes complex events coherent and comprehensible.
Consider the case of a Tiffany lamp. It's made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of individually selected and cut pieces of glass. The Wisteria lamp, for example, has approximately 2,000 pieces. It sold for $400 the year it was inaugurated just prior to 1902. The most expensive lamp, Lotus, sold for $750 during the first decade of the twentieth century. That was also the price of a Model T Ford at the time. Imagine the wealth of a family who could afford such a lamp. Clearly they were made for the homes of grand industrialists who lived in Gilded Age excess. Then imagine the modest to straitened circumstances of the young women who made them, some of whom were from struggling immigrant families living in poor neighborhoods of the Lower East Side. The Tiffany lamp bridges both worlds.
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