Book review of Harry Clarke, Strangest Genius.

Harry Clarke, Strangest Genius

IKO Studio has a small library full of art books and specific titles on stained glass. It is a collections of books purchase on the Internet and it includes some rare, limited edition books.

One of my favorite stained glass artists is without a doubt, Harry Clarke, he was born in Dublin in 1889 to family who already had an established stained glass studio.

His studies, naturally focused on art and he begun a successful career as illustrator and stained glass designer. Of all the stained glass artists at that time, I think Harry Clarke was the artist who experimented the most with painting on glass and for this reason, his windows are quite spectacular and awe inspiring.

Stained Glass Harry Clarke

Clarke is without doubt the genius of stained glass, his paintings on glass are similar to his ink illustrations. Glass paint is applied by means of a fine pen, creating a contrast between deep black and the luminosity and transparency of the light passing through the glass. The effect is unique. But this genius’s life was cut short. His exposure to acid used for etching glass, the toxic substances contained in glass paint pigments, combined with a lack of health and safety at work, led Clarke to poor health and a premature death.

Stained Glass Window Harry Clarke

The book Harry Clarke, Strangest Genius by Lucy Costigan and Michael Cullen, published by History Press in 2010, contains plates of the entire collection of 174 stained glass windows by Harry Clarke made during his “short life”. It is a fantastic collection of breathtaking images and details, and it is the first time that the entire works of Harry Clarke have been fully documented and photographed. The book is subdivided according to the locations in which his work can be found, predominantly the England and Irish counties, as well as Scotland, Wales, America and Australia.

I recommend Harry Clarke, Strangest Genius to anyone passionate about stained glass or painting on glass. I find Clarke’s imagery and style, that of using long, slim figures, elegant hands, and wild patterns and clothing, inspirational on an artistic level. But it is his unusual painting techniques and their impact that inspire me the most to be experimental.