Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Complete Stained Glass of Harry Clarke

Readers of this website will recall my longtime interest in the work of Irish illustrator and stained-glass designer Harry Clarke, whose stunning and somewhat idiosyncratic style represents some of the most creative and unusual work done in the liturgical and ecclesiastical sphere. While always innovative and drawing on a vast network of both sacred and secular precedents (it is difficult whether to classify him as Art Nouveau, Symbolist, Celtic Revival, or something else entirely), his designs always drew on his own deep knowledge of Christian symbolism, theology, history, and lore, and while sometimes controversial, were praised by the likes of even the cranky Dom Roulin in his Modern Church Architecture. While not always influenced by him in my own illustrative work, I do frequently turn to his art for inspiration and simple enjoyment.

I read with interest in the Irish Times that it seems a new book, Strangest Genius: The Complete Stained Glass of Harry Clarke, has been published showcasing the artist's 160 stained-glass windows, which will be a worthy successor to Nicola Gordon Bowe's excellent (if rare) 1989 The Life and Work of Harry Clarke, whose largely black-and-white illustrations afford a somewhat inevitably limited view of the subject. It appears itself to be the work of a considerable amount of leg-work and original research on the part of the authors. I have not been able to obtain a copy, but the website set up to promote the book looks quite promising. It appears the full content of the website itself will be launched in association with RTE (Irish Television) in October of this year. If anyone knows anything else about this project, I would be interested in hearing more.

(Image source: here).

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