I love books, especially art books, and reviewing the book A New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene is both a pleasure and a disappointment. The book is almost too lovely.
The book accompanies the Huntington Library's exhibit of the same title that closed on 26 January 2009 in Pasadena to travel on 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).
The Huntington Library exhibit was one of several that helped commemorate the centennial of the Gamble House, a work of Charles and Henry Greene that is one of the jewels of Pasadena's crown. Most of the other exhibits closed on 4 January 2009. All showed different aspects of the Gamble House and led me to finally visit this National Historic Landmark.
I wish I had read the many essays collected in A New and Native Beauty before I had seen any of them. Living in Pasadena, I'll have the opportunity to visit the Gamble House again as well as the permanent exhibit at the Huntington Library in its Dorothy Collins Brown Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. For those who aren't lucky enough to live in Pasadena, the book's many photographs will give you an idea of how beautiful the Gamble House is and the exhibit will leave you wistfully wishing we hadn't allowed the Bandini House to be destroyed, like many architectural treasures.
The title of the book and the exhibit comes from the 1952 citation the Greenes were given by the American Institute of Architects although they had ceased being partners by that time. The Greenes were honored as "formulators of a new and native architecture" and Greene & Greene, who were based in Pasadena, strongly influenced California's architectural heritage and the American Arts and Crafts movement.
Edited by Edward R. Bosley, James N. Gamble Director of the Gamble House (University of Southern California, School of Architecture) and Anne E. Mallek, curator of the Gamble House, this book includes a brief foreword by Frank Gehry and 11 essays.
The Greenes were influenced by the Morris Movement ("The Beauty of a House: Charles Greene, the Morris Movement and James Culbertson" by Mallek), Japonism ("The Spell of Japan: Japonism and the Metalwork of Greene and Greene" by Nina Gray), even though neither ever traveled to Japan, and the very sunny nature that attracted winter birds to Pasadena ("Sunlight and Elsewhere: Finding California in the Work of Greene and Greene" by Bruce Smith).