From March 21 through August 23, 2020, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present a major exhibition of works by celebrated architectural artist and painter Brian Clarke (b. 1953, United Kingdom). The first museum exhibition in the U.S. of Clarke’s stained-glass screens, compositions in lead, and related drawings on paper, Brian Clarke: The Art of Light showcases the most considerable artistic and technical breakthrough in the thousand-year history of stained glass.
More than twenty stained-glass screens form the centerpiece of the exhibition. Begun in 2015, these works are described by Clarke as “the expression of ideas that started forming in my mind in the 80s. They possess a cinematic drama that, until now, we haven’t had the technology to express.” Produced using advances developed with and for them, the works dispense with the dividing lead support that has been a necessary component of stained glass through most of its existence. Merging the traditional techniques of glassblowing with the artist’s decades of exploration of the medium of glass, the screens are Clarke’s major independent work of the past four years.
Brian Clarke, Flowers for Zaha, 2016. Photo: Fraser Watson.
“Brian joins a long and illustrious history of extraordinary glass artists that MAD has championed over the decades and this exhibition will reveal the technological innovation that is integral to Brian’s sublime artistry,” said Chris Scoates, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “There is palpable excitement in the art world today for the creative breakthroughs currently happening in media such as glass and I am extremely excited to share what will be an unforgettable encounter with the union of art and design in contemporary stained glass.”
Consistently, Clarke has pushed the boundaries of stained glass, both in terms of technology and its poetic potential, in tandem with his investigations in painting. His practice in architectural and autonomous stained glass has led to successive innovation and invention in the fabrication of the medium and, through the production of leadless stained glass and the creation of sculptural works made primarily or wholly of lead, he has radically stretched the limits of what stained glass can do and express.
Organized by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and curated by Director Paul Greenhalgh, the exhibition’s more than 100 works, completed by Clarke over the last two decades, will be arranged thematically at MAD. In the light-filled fourth floor gallery, Clarke’s impressively scaled, free-standing screens will immerse visitors in exuberant, saturated colors. By contrast, the fifth floor will display the artist’s earlier leaded works, striking a more somber and contemplative chord. The dual presentation of work and materials in relation to light or its absence reinforces central themes in Clarke’s practice, such as morality, modernity, and memory.
“Brian Clarke is widely recognized as the most significant artist working in stained glass in the contemporary world. Clarke is also recognized as an important painter, and his painterly sensibility underpins the whole of his output. He also regularly works in sculpture, ceramic, metalwork, and mosaic,” said Greenhalgh. “Ultimately, this vortex of activity contributes toward his central goal to produce ‘total works of art,’ which combine all aspects of the visual arts to transform the architectural environment. This exhibition is the first leg of an international tour. It explores the culture of stained glass, and repositions it as a medium of vital importance in the twenty-first century.”
For more information, visit madmuseum.org.
SOURCE Museum of Arts and Design