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, Brian listened to a performance of Vivaldi’s violin concerto in the square at Darmstadt, a benefit concert by Yehudi Menuhin given to raise funds for the stained glass windows he had been comissioned to design for the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue/Neue Synagoge in Darmstadt, and the next year designed the first of these works, the blue and white 'winter' window; in 1990 three further works were designed, 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). First exhibited at the Seibu Museum in Tokyo later that year, the 'winter' roundel is installed in Clarke's 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.