Henry Matisse and Marc Chagall were 20th century artists who painted stained glass. Fast forward to the 21st century - architectural glass artist Paul Housberg designs an art installation for a prominent Boston hospital.
Iíll discuss their works in glass with an emphasis on color and light.
At the age of 77, Henry Matisse began a project that would last 4 years. At the end of his life he embarked on a major undertaking of the design of "The Chapel of the Rosary" in Vence, France. Near Nice, the Vence Chapel is also (rightly) known as the Matisse Chapel - paying homage to the greatest modern painter of color and simplicity.
While Matisse was recovering from cancer surgery, the young nurse Monique Bourgeois tended to his recovery. The artist continued their friendship when she became Sister Jacques-Marie, a nun with the Dominican convent. It was she who asked for the artistís help in designing the chapel and itís interior.
Light was Matisseís medium and it floods through the blue, yellow, and green glass of the chapel, onto the white floor and walls. He used blue to represent the Mediterranean Sea and the sky, yellow to represent the sun, and green to represent vegetation for his abstract "Tree of Life."
Visitors to the Matisse Chapel describe the experience as "intensely moving." Matisse found it "peaceful" and "eased the turmoil" he had in his life. Born Catholic, yet an atheist, Matisse revealed a belief in God after having completed the chapel design.
It wasnít until age 70 that the artist Marc Chagall began designing stained glass windows Ė first, for Saint-Stephen Cathedral in Metz, France. In 1960, he created windows for a synagogue in Jerusalem; other worldwide commissions would eventually follow.
Color and light would be the powerful elements of Chagallís windows.
I first saw Paul Housbergís art installation "Water Walk" mentioned in the artdaily.org newsletter, dated Saturday July 27, 2013.
Born in New York City, educated at R.I.S.D., and a studio in Jamestown, RI, Housberg is best known for his "inventive applications of glass working technologies." His company Glass Project has completed projects in the following architectural settings: corporate, hospitality, residential, civic and public, proposals, and in healthcare.
It is in the healthcare category that we find the collaboration of Paul Housberg and others in the development of "Water Walk" in the lobby of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, an inpatient facility on the Charlestown waterfront in Boston, MA. The mission of the hospital's art program is to "contribute to the overall healing environment through pieces that engage, inspire, and enliven patients and visitors."
To quote Paul Housberg, "Water Walk" was inspired by "water, its movement, the play of reflections on its surface, and the connections between water and healing."
Housberg speaks of his use of blue and green with "the smattering of other colors, the reflective quality of the glass, [and] the abstract patterns that will mirror the harbor just outside."
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital consistently ranks in US News and World Reportís Best Hospitals since 1995, where they deliver a holistic and therapeutic approach to rehabilitation.
Offering excellent views of Boston Harbor and with water access for their patients, this Boston hospital was instrumental in the rehabilitation of many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013.
Photo provided by Paul Housberg Glass Project
To see more of Housberg's work, visit: http://www.glassproject.com