Greene and Greene: Masterworks

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9780811818780: Greene and Greene: Masterworks

In the first decades of the 20th century, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene almost single-handedly defined the Arts and Crafts aesthetic in America as the architectural firm Greene & Greene. The only full-color survey of the firm's greatest works-including several newly restored to their original grandeur-Greene & Greene reveals the consummate artistry that ensured the brothers' place among the most brilliant of American architects. An in-depth tour of 25 magnificent homes, this book examines the creative evolution of their style. From the Gamble House in Pasadena, California whose director contributes the book's foreword to lesser-known gems throughout the state, Greene & Greene is a wonderful introduction to the brothers' work, and a warm homage to the charms of this refined domestic architecture.

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Review:

With Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Sumner Greene and brother Henry Mather Greene defined the Arts & Crafts movement in America. From their offices in Pasadena, they created "Ultimate Bungalows," finely crafted homes characterized by the integration of architecture and interior design into a harmonious whole. Though both brothers had long and distinguished careers, the highpoint of their work came between 1903 and 1909, when they created such lasting masterpieces as The Gamble House in Pasadena, the Pratt House in Ojai, and the Thorsen House in Berkeley. Greene & Greene: Masterworks presents their work in this era in loving detail. Bruce Smith, who wrote the text for the book, is an authority on the Arts & Crafts movement, and is currently working on a biography of Charles Greene. Alexander Vertikoff's lush photography is the perfect accompaniment to the text, beautifully capturing the sweeping grandeur of each house as well as capturing the subtle details that make each Greene & Greene home a treasure. After an overview of the Arts & Crafts movement and a brief biography of the of the brothers, the book turns its attention to various details that characterized the brothers' style. In the section on entryways, for instance, they point out that

Rarely in a Greene and Greene house is there an abrupt division between inside and out. One enters by transitions, in stages. Brick steps my lead up from the garden to a porch. Shelter comes from a gabled overhang or sleeping porch that extends from above--one is covered but still able to feel the breeze. The pattern in the door's art glass evokes the natural world being left behind. Stepping inside, one still does not feel totally enclosed; across the entrance hall are doorways framing a vista of gardens beyond.
After exploring the details, they move on to the houses themselves, looking at 24 houses ranging from the modest, unassuming Brandt-Serrurier House in Altedena--a single story cottage built in 1905--to their greatest creation, The Gamble House in Pasadena. A short history and examination of details is given to each house, but by and large the houses are allowed to speak for themselves through dazzling photos. One of the most striking features of each house is the honey-colored light that fills each room as it pours through Japanese-inspired stained glass chandeliers and is reflected from rich mahogany and teak floors and furniture. To walk through a Greene & Greene house was to walk through a work of fine art. As Henry Greene said, "The idea was to eliminate everything unnecessary, to make the whole as direct and simple as possible, but always with the beautiful in mind as the first goal." As Greene & Greene: Masterworks clearly shows, they succeeded brilliantly. --Laszlo Simonyi

About the Author:

Bruce Smith has served as editor of American Bungalow News and associate editor of American Bungalow magazine. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Alexander Vertikoff is the cover photographer for American Bungalow and lives in Sedillo, New Mexico.

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