Arts & Crafts and Green & Greene question

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 04-05-2009 08:50 AM 1191 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18378 posts in 3845 days

04-05-2009 08:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question greene greene arts crafts

Is Greene & Greene a style within Arts & Crafts? Or, what is the relationship, if any? thanks for any input.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

7 replies so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3611 days

#1 posted 04-05-2009 10:22 AM

Yes it is but Arts and craft seems to be a much abused term. Frank loyd wright, charles rennie macintosh and joseph hoffman all get tagged with the name yet their work is original and unique to them. Really I think it,s more to do with the philosophy of the age than any one style. Anything from william morris in 1860 to popular mechanics in 1920 gets lumped with the term. As for the relationships, I believe they all were aware of each others work but weren,t copyists, they left that up to the mass production factorys. Check out kevin Rodels book.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3605 days

#2 posted 04-05-2009 10:41 AM

Topamaxsurvivor, hello!

I think this very interesting topic, and there are even books which cover this, but the short answer is that Greene & Greene, along with other styles (perhaps substyles) or “directions/movements” of this period which fit under or within the Arts and Crafts movement (also technically a movement not a epoch in the history of Art and archtecture history). The time peroid is circa 1870 till 1910 (Usually times and peroids dates are at times disputed and depend heavily on the country for example the Arts and Crafts movement died out in Enlgand, where it began around these times where as in america it was still popular longer.

The Relationship? This can also be answered easily and short. Henry and Charles Greene, brothers and and eventual architects and handworkers trained in the classical building styles of the time (Historical/classic styles stemming from europe) from metal and evetual a special partial degree at M.I.T., were just normal Architects of their time… taking influence from many things in life, japanese styles, influnece from thier father, who as a phsyician, thought that sunlight being very important to health, and as well and perhaps the most important factor traveled to england during the Arts and Crafts movement and married an English woman, so I can only imagine this had a large impact on someone who designs things for a living. As a handworker, you probably notice it your self, looking at details on a piece of furniture or the windows on a building.

So they started their own style, which developed into a sort of cult following in the latter half of the 20th century, under the umbrella of the Arts and Crafts movement.

So if you are still interested read further:

The Arts and Crafts movement is by defintion a Movement, under a larger classification called the “Historismus”(translated i think as Historism but as I do not have any books refering to this epoch in English) and/or “Eklectismus” (tr.. ?)

Belonging to Arts and Crafts movement are as well different “sub-styles”
(craftsman, mission, stickley, greene and greene and so on…)

It should be said that the Arts and Crafts was just as much a philosophy or perhaps more a movement in though, than a mere style… the style reflects the philosophy of the handworkers of the time. And with this statement, I really mean HANDWORKERS. This is important to remember… because in this time the Industrial revolution was in full swing in England and everything that could be made by machine, was made by machine and if the machine did not exist the handworkers of the time (patternmakers) were put to work skulpting out of wood forms to build the machines which would eventually replace the village cabinetmaker, woodworker (but in many other hand working areas as well).

The industry streamlined and deleted many styling ques and forms to be compatible with the machines, (so no more intarsien, no more carved in details, a ton less profile and beads, anything that slowed down the industry/machinelle process was not built into the furniture). More and more (people) found that this industry produced furniture not satisfying or comfortable in the second half of the 19 century. Many found this not to just a loss of identity (becase every peice was exactly the same), but also diagnosed as a Ethical and Social problem – - The handworker could not compete in his small shop, he must move to the city, work in the factory producing for the very same people who put him out of work, and for small wages and poor working conditions.

Ok, so in comes Publisist John Ruskin, who made with his publications, the public concience of the problems with all the industrialization going on and the small family shops going away. The other founder of the Arts and Crafts movement is the famous artist, entrepreneur, and Socialist politician William Morris (everybody has heard of him). Both of these men saw the reason for the culture and social problems of the day to be attributed to the industry and “big business” (to use a modern term) and sew the seeds for Arts and Crafts movement by calling for a return to the handmade goods and (so to say small business/shops) handwork skills and design. and the closing out and stopping of the Industial design and production (mass production of products).

So in short work back to the Hand worker and away from the big industry!
(does this sound familiar in todays business world with globalization and everything or not?)

So Morris tried with his business and ideas to connect the handwork and building of goods (furniture) to the pre-industrial revolution, and and made a huge impression with his colleagues, artist, and other designers and handworkers of his time. His ideas influences many a cabinetworker including, all the main cabinetmakers you have probably heard about in the sub styles under the Arts and Crafts movement. But this was in everything from Pottery, to carpetmaking, metal work, you name it if it was earlier made just by man with out machines, where his influence and ideas stretched.

So many of the designs with all the visible joints and constructions became the styling que of the Arts and Crafts (as well as the Greene and Greene) as as proof of something made that a machine could not at the time mass produce (for example dovetails).

Unfortunately (in my humble opinion) and as you probably already know, Morris and his peers did not triumph in the fight against the machines and industry. but inspired many generations of those who love the work of hand made furniture afterword. Not to mention many of the spinn off styles it produced… Of all countries that took up the Arts and Crafts “torch” america is perhaps the most notable because of the longevity of the style there, as well as the popularity the variety is perhaps at its greatest in addition.

In fact “Jugenstil” is also a movement in Germany which roughly at the same time (although shorter lived) tried to produce the same thing… less industry and more handwork, but unfortuantly the Jugendstil, was only affordable at the time by wealthy classes

well, I hope this did not bore anyone, I tried to summerize as much as possible to make it interesting to read.

and I hope it was helpfull too!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Darrell Peart's profile

Darrell Peart

371 posts in 3758 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 03:47 PM

Greene and Greene is a part of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Technically the movement was more of a philosophy but in America a recognizable style did emerge. The Greene’s were influenced early on by Gustav Stickley and in fact specified Stickley furniture in some of their early houses. The Greenes blended American A&C with mostly Japanese influences (and other influences as well) to create their unique style. I like to think of G&G as “Gustav Stickley meets Japan”.
Gustav Stickley promoted the value of crafts for everyone and could be considered the father of the American A&C Movement. His pieces were produced on a large scale. He provided plans for his furniture so that everyone could realize the joys of working with their hands. His furniture was relatively simple to insure that everyone could join in.
G&G also valued skill and craft-work, but in a different way. Where Stickley was very inclusive the Greene’s were very exclusive. The Greene brothers (the designers) teamed up with the Hall brothers (the builders/craftsman) to produce what many consider the finest furniture from the American Arts and Crafts movement. Their furniture was produced on a one-of a kind basis. The skill level for this furniture was raised very high.
Whereas Stickley honored the craft by bringing it to the masses – G&G honored the craft by raising the bar. Their work demanded the skills of the very best craftsman. Their pieces were affordable only to the wealthiest of clients. Both Stickley and the Greene’s should be honored for their respective contributions

-- Darrell Peart - Seattle - - author G&G Design Elements for the Workshop

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3611 days

#4 posted 04-05-2009 04:22 PM

And you can,t have a more authoritive answer than that!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View stanley2's profile


346 posts in 3965 days

#5 posted 04-05-2009 04:26 PM

You got lucky TopamaxSurvivor – Darrell must have been lurking with his morning coffee.

-- Phil in British Columbia

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18378 posts in 3845 days

#6 posted 04-06-2009 12:11 AM

Yes, I did indeed get lucky! Thanks to all of you for the great summary. I was under the impression this was an early 20th century thing in America. So little time, so many interests, too much to learn in one lifetime!!

I didn’t know there was a woodworker like Darrell so close here in Seattle. I’m getting to worn out to climb ladders doing electrical, maybe I could get a new apprenticeship going in wood :-))

I’d like to add a bit of extra thanks to Waldschrat for taking the time to write that sumary.

have a great day!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3605 days

#7 posted 04-06-2009 02:31 PM

Hey not a problem! and I know what you mean by too many interest, too little time!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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