September 30, 2004

James Carpenter, MacArthur Fellow

Not sure if anyone noticed this one. James Carpenter, a glass artist, was one of those who won a MacArthur Grant, commonly known as the "Genius" grants. James Carpenter is really more of an architect who specializes in incorporating glass into architecture in innovative ways, rather than a 'glass artist' (the NPR website refers to him as a 'glass technologist'). Still, his work is well known. I have heard him speak more than once and his presentations are impressive.

Unfortunately. the only piece of his that I have seen was a big disappointment. The convention center in Charlotte NC has a sort-of skylight piece of his that I believe I heard him talk about some 10 years ago. Impressive descriptions of how the light would project somewhere and make a moving kind of light show, etc etc. But the actual piece is almost impossible to see in the building and doesn't seem to be doing much more than be a slightly odd looking skylight. I hope and trust that this was just an earlier work and that his more recent stuff is as impressive as his presentations.

Of course, It may be that his style is a bit too minimalist for my taste.

Posted by Tom at 01:25 AM

September 27, 2004

The stained glass of Gottried Von Stockhausen

When I was in Boston in June, I got to see some books featuring the stained glass of Gottried Von Stockhausen. Alice's husband Paul had just picked them up in Germany. I am unsure of availability in the USA but they are very nice books. One on purely autonomous work and the other on architectural work. I think I like the autonomous work a bit better (I tend to in general). But it was all very good stuff.

Could not find much on the web. A site with some pictures, and a bio (in German).

It's nice to be able to rethink the assumptions of the last 25-30 years regarding the 'German School' of stained glass. It is easy to get the impression that ALL German work of the last 40 years was of the Meisterman/Schaffrath/Schreiter line. Much of that work I find cold and uncompelling. This makes the expressive figural work of Stockhausen that much more unique. Even more so considering that he produced a large amount of work and that it goes back several decades.

Posted by Tom at 04:31 PM

September 13, 2004

Harry Clarke on the web

I came across a site of Harry Clarke Illustrations. Plenty of images (63 from 'Faust' alone) at a decent size, though no images of the stained glass.

There are a few links at the site including this to a brief Harry Clarke bio where there are also a few images of the stained glass.

Seeing all this does remind me of the conundrum of Clarke that his black and white work is very strong, his stained glass work is very strong but his color illustration work is pretty weak. I've always wondered - why? I noticed this time that the color illustration work has a curious absence of black. Perhaps Clarke was an artist who needed to ground himself in black. One of the most striking things about the black and white work is how rich and expressive the black is. Certainly the stained glass works partly because, by the nature of the medium, there has to be black. Clarke was also fairly obsessive about incorporating that black into the design in stained glass windows. I've always felt this makes his designs stronger and the colors more vibrant. The color illustrations do not have that rich black to bring out the colors. The stained glass does.

Posted by Tom at 08:51 AM

September 12, 2004

State of the Architecture

Regarding a recent article in the Guardian on the RIBA prize.
When an article describes the most popular contender for a major architectural prize as a gherkin, you know we live in strange times. Some of the others are described as a bulbous sea creature, a shard and a needle.

Posted by Tom at 10:45 AM

September 10, 2004

Morris on my mind

Time flies indeed - more than a month since the last post. I have a good excuse as I am in the midst of moving my family and all my worldly possessions from North Carolina, where I have lived for the past 7 years, to St. Louis, Missouri.
Big, big task and I'm still in the midst of it.

In dealing with the packing - the moving - the boxes - the decisions, decisions, decisions - keep it - throw it away - leave it - take it, I have had a little time to reflect on the quote by William Morris, his 'golden rule' -

"Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

- The Beauty of Life, 1880

I like the clever turn of phrase - you must KNOW it to be useful, yet you are allowed to BELIEVE it to be beautiful. That is, if you truly believe that big-eyed kitten paintings are beautiful, you're clear. It leaves a little room for one's personal world view.

I also like the implication that one must be conscious of the objects in your house, and by extension, in your life. You must be aware (know or believe) that the decision is not driven by blind impulse, nor a vague sense that it 'should be' something to keep, and certainly not be due to any social convention. That is, in order to keep an object, any object, you must be truly aware of the value it has.

21st century life does not make this easy, of course. So much stuff and so many boxes and oy, so many books (my weakness)!!
Yes, I would like to weed out the unnecessary and the unbeautiful.
Just give me time. Please.

Posted by Tom at 12:58 AM