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Master, pioneer, legend. Only a few achieve these distinctions. In the design world, two such legends are from the same family — brothers Charles and Henry Greene. The Greenes are recognized as leaders in the American Arts & Crafts Movement when architecture and design began to focus on craftsmanship that featured strong lines, exposed joinery, and ornate, handcrafted decorative elements. The look was simple yet extraordinary — meant to stand the test of time.

This past weekend, A New and Native Beauty — The Art And Craft of Greene & Greene opened at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. It’s the most comprehensive exhibit of the brothers’ work which spans their lives and careers over a 90-year period. Many items have never been seen by the public. It includes drawings, photographs, correspondence and nearly 150 decorative objects, including the Bolton Chair, the Culbertson Lantern and the Reeve Window, pictured below.

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The Greene & Greene exhibit can be viewed at The Huntington now until Jan. 26, 2009. After checking out the exhibit, be sure to save time to see some of the other wonderfully inspiring things The Huntington has to offer. Founded in 1919 by railroad and real estate developer Henry Edwards Huntington, the educational and research institution is situated on 120 acres featuring more than 14,000 species of plants, three art galleries and a library housing rare books and manuscripts.

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Fall in the Japanese Garden at The Huntington/Photo courtesy of The Huntington

This year marks the 100-year anniversary for one of the brothers’ most recognizable projects — the Gamble house in Pasadena, Calif. The Greenes designed the bungalow-style home and its interiors for the David and Mary Gamble family of Proctor and Gamble. The home is considered a quintessential example of American Arts & Crafts architecture and design. It is a National Historic Landmark, owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California. The home is open the public. The Huntington and The Gamble House are less than 10 miles apart, so make a day of it and be sure to check out both.

If you don’t have plans to be on the West Coast, A New and Native Beauty – The Art And Craft of Greene & Greene moves to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in March 2009 and to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in July 2009. To learn more about the work of Charles and Henry Greene and one of their legendary masterpieces, visit www.gamblehouse.org.

I find the Greenes’ work incredibly inspiring. It reminds me that home — inside and out, down to the joists — can be artistic. Art with purpose.

Who inspires you? Any design legends you admire?

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Art

3 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    I'm a huge fan of Greene and Greene and the late 19th/early 20th century arts and crafts designers like Stickley and F.L. Wright. My favorite inspiration is Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His sense of line and art are still stunning almost 100 years later. Thanks for sharing this. I think I need to plan a trip to CA to see it.

  2. Leslie Judson, Decor says:

    You're welcome, Melissa.

    Thanks for mentioning Charles Mackintosh. Certainly legendary in his own right. And, of course, Frank Lloyd Wright and Gustav Stickley. What a rich, evolutionary era in design!

    Thanks also for inspiring me for future posts. Hope you keep reading!

  3. Rev. Marsha Swenson says:

    I'm purchasing a home for retirement (some 4 years away) in Madison, WI. The architect was Herb DeLevie (Frank Lloyd Wright school). While it has been kept in reasonably good repair, no updating has happened, so it has a severe '70's look. Windows, doors and probably siding need replacing, as well as powder room, full bath and kitchen. The rest is cosmetic work. Wishes: To be as green as possible, to maintain integrity to the architectural philosophy, to convert an open carport to a garage that fits with the style, and to make it completely mine. I have the luxury of a few years to get some of the heavier construction out of the way. Any thoughts are very welcome!

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