The Modern Windows

By Timi Ayeni

The stained glass window: You may often pass a church and not even take in its beauty. These impressive works of art have been around for centuries. Interestingly enough although many religious buildings with stained glass would have had the pieces made by respected craftspeople of the time, some even ancient churches had their stained glasses done by famous artists. In the 20th century, artists again began to become involved with decoration in religious buildings stain glasses so it’s still a current subject, find out more in The Modern Windows here

The light pours through the colours shine, spreading their joyous tones around the room. Stain-glass windows usually show a significant number of religious symbols or biblical, religious stories to honour their individual religious entities some however, are more abstract due to certain religions not allowing people to be shown in art works. But these decorative glass spaces do cross many different practices.

Interestingly it was John Thornton, the first named artist in British history who was behind the stained glass windows at one of the oldest Churches in the world.

York Minster which was built in 637 AD in York, England as it was one of the greatest of all European cathedrals, a Gothic masterpiece of northern England that incorporated a giant east-facing window that has the largest expanse of stained glass anywhere before the modern era. Designed by John Thornton it features at its heart an intense depiction of the coming apocalypse. 

Image Anne Morris

However, it’s not only churches that have glass-stained decorations, but mosques synagogues and other places of worship.

One mosque with glass-stained windows is the Nasīr al-Mulk Mosque which is situated in Shiraz, Iran which was constructed between 1876 and 1888, during the Qajar dynasty, which ruled Iran from 1785 to 1925.

Dubbed “the pink mosque” due to the plethora of pink-coloured tiles that covered the ceiling.  The construction of the glass-stained windows was created at the same time as the building of the mosque and it is one of the most popular mosques in the world.

Image Mailan Maik

In the most recent years, there have been a lot of artists that have created iconic decorations across diverse religions. They include a diverse set of creatives.

Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist and one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. He created a stained-glass window in 1964 for the United Nations which was named “The Peace Window“ to honour a UN second Secretary General who was killed in a plane crash.

He also created a glass-stained window in the Reins Cathedral, in France in 1968. He created three beautiful stained glass panels in the mid-1970s. These windows are in the apse of the cathedral, behind the main altar.

Image Guy Dugas

Then comes Brian Clarke, a British architectural artist who is known for his large-scale stained glass and collaborations with major figures in Modern and contemporary architecture.

Image 12019

He designed a glass window in the United States which was named “The Stamford Cone” in Stamford, Connecticut.

Image Brian Clarke

He also designed a stained glass artwork for the New Synagogue Darmstadt in Germany in 1988.

Then there is the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed more than 1,000 structures for over 70 years. Part of his work includes the design of a stained glass window for the Coonley Playhouse in 1912.

Maybe lesser known for his stained glass French artist Henri Matisse was known for his use of colours in his artwork. He designed stained glass windows for The Rosary Chapel in Vence, France.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, another Brit this time Scottish is widely known for his use of an artistic approach common with European symbolism. He designed a glass-stained window for the internationally renowned Glasgow School of Art in 1902. And then there is John Piper, an English painter and designer of stained-glass windows for both opera and theatre sets across the U.K. He designed a glass-stained window from the Church of St Bartholomew in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire in 1970.

But it was Egon Altdorf, a German stained-glass artist who designed the window for Wiesbaden’s new synagogue in 1966 that may well have been lesser known, but who is tremendously important in this genre.

Although he was not Jewish he was devoted to creating art that crossed religious boundaries and allowed all audiences to participate in the act of viewing art, whether it enhanced their spiritual experience or not he used it to show that we are a different religion and we must know and love each other.

His stained glass and architectural designs in the synagogue are an explicit symbol of religious (and secular) unity, a philosophy he makes plain with a basalt column referencing the wartime destruction of the synagogue that he inscribed with ‘The world’s conscience is love’ which indicates that the world needs to be a better place for everyone to live in and be at peace with each other.

© Patrick Bäum, Wiesbaden Fenster JЃdische

A new book has just been released about the artist Egon Altdorf called Into the Light: The Art of Egon Altdorf, and covers the variety of work he created during his lifetime including sculpture, woodcuts, glass design and poetry.

Egon Altdorf Fenster JЃdische Synagogеe Patrick Buml, Wiesbaden

It is the first English language study of the German artist who was one of three prize-winners in the German competition for the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner and went on to achieve success as a printmaker, graphic artist and interior designer as well as a sculptor.

The Unknown Political Prisoner competition in 1953 paid tribute to those individuals who, in many countries and in diverse political situations, had dared to offer their liberty and their lives for the cause of human freedom and this new book explores the unique body of sculpture, woodcuts, stained glass, poetry, and designed for Wiesbaden’s new synagogue (1966).

This new book explores Altdorf’s work in ten interdisciplinary chapters as this book illuminates the still-overlooked contribution of artists who reshaped postwar existence: the lost generation.

The book talks about how Altdorf endured wartime captivity, inspiring a life dedicated to art that was innovative, spiritual and redemptive.

His work was exhibited in London alongside sculptors Barbara Hepworth, Lynn Chadwick and Reg Butler at the Unknown Political Prisoner exhibition (1953) as he adopted an increasingly abstract approach, rooted in Biblical symbolism yet embracing different faiths.

So places of worship may be sacred but the art within is a way to engage with religious practice however it’s not usually a place to actually visit to view artworks.

However, Luke Jerram, a British installation artist is having an exhibition from July 2023 titled “Mars: War & Peace” at St John the Baptist’s Church in London where he will show his instillations in the church. His work is a multidisciplinary art practice that involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live artworks.

This piece allows viewers to see Mars from the air, as though they are a satellite mapping and studying the surface in perfect detail. Every valley, crater, volcano, and mountain is laid bare to inspect. It transports viewers to this desert wasteland, to imagine what it’s like to step foot on this incredible planet and in comparison, to really value our life on Earth.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the artwork features 120 dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Martian surface. At an approximate scale of 1:1 million, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 10 kilometres of the surface of Mars.

Accompanying the “Mars: War & Peace sculpture is a specially created sound composition by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Dan Jones.

Featuring the sounds of seas, deserts and clips from NASA missions to Mars, it also incorporates the sounds of distant bombing and people marching, as if to war. This new soundtrack allows viewers the opportunity to reflect on the current conflict in Ukraine and the history and notion of war.

During the installation, St John the Baptist will play host to a concert series with orchestras performing from 22nd July to 30th July, including a lunchtime concert of Holst’s Planets on 22nd July whilst Luke Jerram’s Mars: War & Peace is in the church.

These Places of worship are sacred for many but also it turns out there are places to contemplate the world of the arts a very human endeavour.

To find out more about the hardback book please visit Samson and Company here

The installation will appear at three different sites across the festival, St John the Baptist Church (W14 8AH) from Saturday 22 to Sunday 30 July 2023 , All Saints’ Church (W11 1JS) from Monday 31 July to Tuesday 8 August, Jubilee Square (W8 7NX) – an outdoor setting from Thursday 10 August to Sunday 13 AugustTo find out more about Mars: War & Peace at St John the Baptist’s Church in London from the 22nd till the 30th of July 2023 Please visit Here

If you enjoyed reading The Modern Windows why not read Art on Top of Art Here

.Cent magazine London, Be Inspire; Get Involved

Verified by MonsterInsights