Painted Wooden Modernism
It's a contemporary irony: the age of the digital has devalued the manual. We click and swipe and pinch our electronic sidekicks, but it's all fingerwork.
There is some pushback. Just as the Arts and Crafts movement fetishized handwork in a machine age, today's artisanal whatnots point to a celebration of the handicrafts (the antique term) as well as neo-villager food production. It may be precious, but I get it. There is something to the manual-mental-spiritual triad.
Our devices are mesmerizing, but we do not grapple with them. It's neither an exaggeration nor a metaphoric utterance, to say that people are groping for an alternative to our fussy-passive diversions.
All of which amounts to an extended preamble to the artifacts of the day.
Is there a more satisfying intersection of vision, inanimate manipulation, and cognitive challenge than a child's wooden puzzle? Playskool and Sifo both made them, and for a stretch in the late 40s and 50s the designers who worked on them had a kind of American Scene abstract sensibility. They number among my collecting enthusiasms. Here, a quartet of puzzles, all by Playskool from the same general period.
Then go use your arms and hands to do something. Dig a hole. Paint a door. Wrestle your dog.