This ambitious exhibition presents a chronological survey of the Greenes’ lives and careers over a nearly 90-year period. Representative objects from 30 of the brothers’ commissions, including significant examples from the best-known period of their work between 1906 and 1911, explores important points in the evolution of their unique design vocabulary. In all, the show features approximately 140 objects from the collections of The Huntington, the Gamble House, and other private and institutional lenders. Many of the works on view have never before been seen by the public. Included are examples of beautifully inlaid furniture, artfully executed metalwork, luminous art glass windows and light fixtures, and rare architectural drawings and photographs.
Among the items on display are nearly 15 pieces of furniture from the Robert R. Blacker House (1909) in Pasadena, including the iconic mahogany entry-hall bench and delicately inlaid dining table. Other highlights of the exhibition include the spare and highly modern mahogany hall chair for the William T. Bolton House (1906) in Pasadena, the beautiful early art glass panel for the Jennie A. Reeve House (1904) in Long Beach, and the leaded-glass window for the Carrie Whitworth House (1918) in Altadena, which is an exceptional example of Henry Greene’s work in glass design.
Photographs, drawings, and descriptions of the Greenes’ major architectural works that include the Blacker House as well as the Gamble (1908), Robinson (1906), Tichenor (1905), and Culbertson (1913) houses provide points of departure for interpreting the objects on display. Archival images are complemented by a dedicated education room featuring a video presentation of selected examples of the Greenes’ houses as they appear today. This space also includes a timeline of the architects’ key projects, plus a hands-on display of building materials they used.
Major thematic influences on the Greenes’ work is explored, such as the roles of Japanese architecture, traditional wood joinery, and classical proportion in shaping their own design sensibilities. To this end, the exhibition re-creates an exterior covered corridor of the Arturo Bandini House designed in 1903 but demolished more than four decades ago.
“The Greene brothers created a new paradigm in the American Arts and Crafts movement,” says Edward R. Bosley, James N. Gamble Director of the Gamble House and a co-curator of the exhibition. “They inspired their clients to go the extra mile to create a rarefied stratum of architecture.”
As did their contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Henry Greene believed architecture to be no less than a design language for life, imbuing their houses and furnishings with an expressive sensitivity for geography, climate, landscape, and lifestyle.
“The Greenes were looking for ways to build in this environment that made sense to them,” says Gamble House curator Anne Mallek, who is co-curating the exhibition with Bosley. “This environment” was their new home of Pasadena, to which they came in 1893 after being raised in the Midwest and attending the Manual Training School in St. Louis and MIT in Boston. Newly founded, Pasadena was a sophisticated town that had become the state’s preeminent resort for tourists from the East. The brothers established their practice and soon were designing homes for wealthy clients, many of them transplants from the Midwest like the Greenes.
NUMBER OF WORKS: 160
TOUR DATES: October 2008 - February 2010
The Museum of Fine Arts | Boston, MA
(July 14 - October 18, 2009)
The Renwick Gallery | The Smithsonian American Art Museum | Washington, D.C.
(March 13 - June 7, 2009)
The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery | San Marino, CA
(October 18, 2008 - January 26, 2009)
CAPTIONS (all works by Green & Greene)
South elevation, 1908
Entry-hall mirror, 1909