Museums are opening doors again in New York City and we couldn’t be happier.
Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is starting up the fall season with an incredible and lively exhibition of works by celebrated architectural artist and painter Brian Clarke starting September 17.
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: The Art of Light is about emotional intensity, about the ability of material and light to explore what it is to be human. Two broad themes are brought out in the two galleries, both of which relate to the extraordinary times we are in,” said Paul Greenhalgh, Director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and curator of the exhibition. “The gallery of works in lead are to do with mortality, with memory, grief and loss. The associated suite of Night Orchid paintings adds a physicality to the room, a sensuousness that embodies the cycle of life, death, and rebirth that is fundamental to nature. The gallery of glass screens collectively generates a euphoria and sense of hope. While each screen has a specific subject matter, the transillumination—the flow of colored light—has a spiritual sense of optimism.
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.
Accompanying the exhibition is a 286-page catalog from HENI Publishing, featuring an introduction by Norman Foster, renowned architect and founder of Foster + Partners, an essay by Greenhalgh, and more than 200 commissioned photographs.
Additionally, a full slate of public programs during MAD’s fall season will leverage the exhibition’s content and themes and will include virtual talks with the artist and key collaborators and collectors of his work, and a director’s screening of the documentary Colouring Light: Brian Clarke—An Artist Apart (2011) with Mark Kidel.
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill. Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies.
MAD will reopen September 17. For more information please visit here.