Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Harry Clarke

I used to own a copy of The Selected Poems of Swinburne illustrated by Harry Clarke: I left it at a girlfriends house- in one of those grand and generous gestures one later regrets. It had an introduction by Humbert Wolfe (I think) in which he said Swinburne wasn't nearly as transgressive as people thought he was and incidentally how much he (Wolfe) deplored Clarke's illustrations.

And they were truly deplorable. A bit Klimt, a bit Erte, a whole lot Beardsley- and as polymorphously perverse as a cage full of bonobos. It amused me how he seemed to go out of his way to avoid drawing hands and feet.

I had no idea who Clarke was. Today ( thanks to a newspaper article) I found out that he was Irish, a product of the Arts and Crafts movement and primarily an artist in stained glass. His weird depictions of weird Celtic saints are in churches and cathedrals all over Ireland.- and unlike any Catholic art you've ever seen before. As for his secular work.....

Yeats thought Clarke was fab (he would.)

I see that a copy of that book I abandoned- and in less good condition than mine- would now set me back $90.

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