Thursday, June 11, 2009
Robert Sowers was a stained glass artist, writer of books, photographer, and the designer of the now demolished architectural glass installation at the AA Terminal at JFK. You could say his prime concern through his creative career was with the qualities of light. Stained glass, for him, was a process of using sheets of colored glass to "paint with light" and, as an art form, it had to have an architectural context. There was a period of exception to this perspective, roughly between 1971 and 1974, when he created a series of, so called, autonomous panels.
His books reflect this view of stained glass as an architectural art.
"The Lost Art". 1954.
"Stained Glass", an architectural art. 1965.
"The Language of Stained Glass", 1981.
"Rethinking the Forms of Visual Expression", 1990. This last book was as much about the relationship between art and architecture as with glass.
There is a final, posthumous volume, "Image of Light" which is a selection of his wonderful black and white photographs.
Between 1979 and 1982, when he ceased designing new glass commissions, he embarked on a series of black and white abstract paintings. These in turn led to a wonderful series of paintings done between 1984 and 1988 who's subject matter broadly falls into 2 categories. The industrial landscape series exploring the deserted industrial areas of lower manhattan and brooklyn between the bridges, and the green park series which are primarily set in central park and tanglewood in the berkshires. These paintings all explore the quality of light which is the prime link to his glass work. Some of these paintings are available for purchase.