March 17, 2004

Ripe for Translation 1 - Redon

I have long been fascinated (some might say obsessed) with the question -

What different graphic approaches could be applied toward the design of stained glass?

In much the way that Tiffany used Impressionistic and Hudson River School ideas to influence his design work (especially in his Landscape windows). In much the same way that LaFarge used Japanese and a whole slew of other approaches to influence his design. I'd like to share some thoughts and impressions of artists and graphic approaches that might inspire new design directions in stained glass.

I love the work of Odilon Redon, french Symbolist artist (1840-1916), and it's always been difficult for me to pin down why. There is an indistinct quality that is appealing. the words evocative and thoughtful spring to mind. There is a pull toward the mysterious that, to me, lends itself to spiritual art and that does not seem to have been explored in depth by many actually designing stained glass.
Check these out and think how they might translate into the design of stained glass windows - just as examples, try his Beatrice and St. John.

There is one artist and one work that may resemble what I would envision a Redon-inspired stained glass work to be like. The St. Bartholomew War Memorial window in Ottawa by Wilhelmina Geddes. This also happens to be a favorite window of mine, in terms of concept and execution. I have strong memories of seeing this window in person, even though it's been nearly 20 years. I have not ever seen the entire window reproduced in print and would love to see an article on it - hey, why not a whole book!

[update 9/2007 - updated link to Geddes page, though there is no picture now on that page - just a link to a pdf of an article from Irish Arts Review of 1994, which does have a picture of the window]

Posted by Tom at March 17, 2004 06:45 PM