Friday, April 3, 2009

Greene & Greene at the Renwick

Two weeks ago, I made it out to the Renwick Gallery to see the Greene & Greene show. After some slight confusion on my part as to where it’s actually located (hint—it’s right behind the Old Executive Office Building), I was quite pleased with the quality of the exhibition, but since I had gotten lost, I didn’t have enough time to read everything before the museum closed for the night.

Not only did they have a great collection of letters and photographs, they also showed some of the original architectural plans. The level of detail the Greenes went to on those plans was quite OCD—plans for all the lighting, furniture, stained glass—very much in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright. These were architects with Vision.

As usual though, my favorite part was the furniture. Of course, pictures can't do it justice. It's so difficult to reproduce the glow of wood photographically, especially when you add 100 years of patina. So here are some of the highlights courtesy of the Gamble House website.

Charles Sumner Greene
Breakfast table, 1899
Douglas fir, cedar, oak, mahogany, and birch
Wedding present for his wife, Alice
Guardian Stewardship
Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene
Desk chair, ca. 1905
Adelaide A. Tichenor house, Long Beach, 1904–05
Guardian Stewardship
Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene
Hall chair, 1907
Mahogany and ebony
Made by Peter and John Hall
Dr. William T. Bolton house, Pasadena, 1906­–07
Guardian Stewardship
Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene
Bookcase, ca. 1912
Mahogany, ebony, and glass
Made by Peter and John Hall
Cordelia A. Culbertson house, Pasadena, 1911–13
Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
Gift of Linda and James Ries in memory of
Dorothy and Harold Shrier
Photography © 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA

Most of these pieces are from their early to mid-career, but what surprised me most about this later piece was how modern it looks. Take away the leaded glass and it really starts to look more like part of the Modernist movement than the Arts & Crafts movement.

All in all, the best way to see these pieces is in person. So if you're anywhere near DC, I highly recommend that you check out the exhibit before it closes on June 7th. Here's the Smithsonian page on the exhibition, with a link to the online exhibition produced by the Gamble House.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review and the photos, Alison. I hope I get a chance to see the exhibition. I'm particularly struck by that desk chair... what elegant simplicity.

Alison Heath said...

Let me know if you make it up here for the show. I'd love to see it again!