From March 21 through August 23, 2020, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York 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 20 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.
Consistently, painter Brian 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 lead-less 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.
A full slate of public programs in New York during Museum of Arts and Design’s spring season will leverage the exhibition’s content and themes, including talks, lectures, workshops, a festival and a 1-day symposium exploring the innovations in glass and future applications of the material.