The Brian Clarke Collection of Stained Glass, comprising over 600 works of stained glass and stained-glass designs from 1100 to the present day, seeks to demonstrate the breadth and potential of the medium, with a particular focus on Modernism and the avant-garde. It included original works from Matisse, Cocteau, Georges Braque, Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leger and John Piper. It is Brian's intention that his entire collection will ultimately be gifted to the nation and find a permanent home in the United Kingdom.
In 1978, Brian co-curated the exhibition GLASS/LIGHT, together with artistsJohn Piper and Marc Chagall and art historian Martin Harrison, at the Royal Exchange in London. A major showcase of Modernist and avant-garde stained glass, the exhibition brought the medium to a much larger audience and prompted an international reinvigoration of the art.
"The assemblage of works of art that over the years has turned into a ‘collection’ began when I was about 17 and was gifted by my teacher, James Paterson, a watercolour study he made of the famous mediaeval Christ roundel from Chartres. Since then, and according to the availability (or otherwise) of funds this collection has grown in fits and starts. But as a ‘collection’ with its own identity, through which I seek to reflect the things I find stimulating or provocative about the medium, the last ten years’ acquisitions have been critical. In this period I have focused on Modern and contemporary works by the artists and architects I believe have had the most radical engagement with the medium. As well as designs and cartoons and actual stained glass I also include in the Collection works by artists in other mediums that directly relate to or have been influenced by stained glass. Consequently, the collection contains many paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings as well. In this category are pieces by Gilbert and George, Georges Rouault, Jean Dubuffet, Calder, Piper, Sutherland, Henry Moore, Warhol, Rauschenberg and others, which for a variety of reasons have a connection to the medium. The oldest item in the collection is from about 1150, by an unknown French artist who worked in Burgundy; the most recent work is by Blondey McCoy, a 23-year-old artist from London. Between Burgundy and Blondey are Max Ernst, Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau, Frank Lloyd Wright, Matisse, Burne-Jones, Georges Braque, Theo van Doesburg, John Piper, Johannes Schreiter and Gerhard Richter." – Brian Clarke