The Four Quarters


The Four Quarters are a quartet of artworks designed by Brian Clarke in 1989–90; each abstract stained glass window corresponds to a movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. In the summer of 1988, Clarke listened to a performance of Vivaldi’s violin concerto in the square at Darmstadt, a benefit concert performed by Yehudi Menuhin, and staged to raise funds for the stained glass windows which he had been comissioned to design for the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue/Neue Synagoge in Darmstadt. The following year he designed and had fabricated the first of these works, the blue and white 'Winter' window; in 1990 three further works were designed and made for exhibition at the Seibu Museum in Tokyo, completing the series: each Quarter corresponds to and gives way to a season (First Quarter is 'Spring', followed by Second Quarter as 'Summer', and so on). Two of the works contain slices of thinly-cut agate set into the leaded, mouthblown glass. First exhibited later that year in Tokyo, the 'Winter' roundel is installed in Clarke's London home.

All of Clarke's work is imbued with a preoccupation with the relationship and tension between opposites, and his favourite leitmotifs: the cross, the amorph, the grid and the geometric elements, can all be understood in terms of an equilibrium which has been disturbed or tormented. In Clarke's work the ritual order of repeated elements is disrupted: straight gives way to bent, soft to hard, defined to diffuse, rough to smooth, etc.” – Paul Beldock, in ArT Random's 1990 monograph Brian Clarke.