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January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
The Huntington, in partnership with the Gamble House, USC, presents the most comprehensive exhibition ever undertaken on the work of Arts and Crafts legends Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene—the first such exhibition to travel outside of California.
“A ‘New and Native’ Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene” is on view from Oct. 18 through Jan. 26, 2009, in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery at The Huntington. It then travels to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. (March 13– June 7, 2009), and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (July 14–Oct. 18, 2009).
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.
Bolton Hall chair, mahogany, 1907. For Dr. William T. Bolton house, Pasadena. Courtesy Guardian Stewardship. Photography courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York.
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.”
Photos by Terry Miller