26 April 2010

A Terrible Beauty is Born: The Art of Harry Clarke

Harry Clarke (1889-1931) was an Irish stained glass artist, painter and book illustrator born on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. Trained by his father a craftsman in stained glass he went on to become Ireland’s most accomplished and creative practitioner of the art. The waning Art Nouveau movement and the waxing Art Deco aesthetic along with continental Symbolism informed him. Clarke also brought something uniquely Celtic to his work as seen in the Geneva Window depicting Irish motifs. He was an accomplished illustrator, working on diverse projects such as Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Selected Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne. On April Fool’s Day, 1924 Clarke completed the illustrations for John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes, a study in blue that would later be a stained glass window. Sadly both Keats and Clarke shared not only their art but also young death from tuberculosis.

10 comments:

  1. Sadly TB claimed so many talents in those days. We have spent a few summers in Brittany, where The Celtic roots are deeply preserved, hauntingly with such dark eyes. You feel a kind of impish possession by the wee folk. Thank you for sharing his work.

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  2. Hi Debra, It is a reminder of how ephemeral beauty and talent can be. Always so good to hear from you. Kendra

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  3. Most interesting Kendra. Your blog is always like a mini-art history lesson. Thank you for your efforts! Amy Zwicker

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  4. I love Harry Clarke. I think Dover has some books...but I would love to add some original editions to my collection. He really was magical.Thanks for posting!

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  5. Hi Mr. Bluehaunt, I agree I find Harry Clarke's work very magical. He had such a brief and brilliant life. Kendra

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  6. ...We adore Harry Clarke! We found a book (at Goodwill of all places) of his illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories that was published in the 30’s. It was such a lovely find and has prominent place on our bookshelf. The illustrations are a perfect blend of morbid loveliness!!!
    S+S

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  7. Thank you S + S, I love Clarke's illustrations for Poe's stories. Poe was one of my favorite writers as a child, I was very different. Always a pleasure to hear from you and read your enchanting blog. Kendra

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  8. The only film of the life and work of Harry Clarke is available here:
    http://www.camelproductions.net
    Title – Harry Clarke – Darkness in Light
    Writer/Director – John J Doherty
    “Documentarian John J Doherty examines the life of Clarke and the controversial nature of his work, culminating in his clash with the conservative Irish Free State over his ‘offensive’ masterpiece, the Geneva Window’. Visually spectacular and poetically told, Darkness in Light is a fitting showcase of Clarke’s unique and haunting vision.” Boston Irish Film Festival

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  9. Thank you so much Camel Productions for making us aware of this film. I look forward to seeing it. Best regards, Kendra

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