The Two Cultures: Brian Clarke and Zaha Hadid in Conversation

Thurs 16 January 2014, 7pm

  • Zaha Hadid and Brian Clarke. Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • Noemi Blager, Acting Director, The Architecture Foundation. Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate. Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • Zaha Hadid's keynote address in the Clore Auditorium. Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • Brian Clarke's keynote address in the Clore Auditorium. Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • NIcholas Serota (left), Zaha Hadid (center) and Brian Clarke (right). Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • NIcholas Serota (left), Zaha Hadid (center) and Brian Clarke (right). Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • NIcholas Serota (left), Zaha Hadid (center) and Brian Clarke (right). Photography by Daniel Vazquez
  • Zaha Hadid. Photography by Daniel Vazquez

Five and a half decades on since C.P. Snow delivered his famous Rede Lecture, 'Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution', it seems as relevant today as it did in 1959. Snow described what he called a “gulf of mutual incomprehension” between science and the humanities. The clashing point between the two cultures was not producing enough “creative chances” - opportunities for new breakthroughs or new ways of looking at the world. More serious was Snow’s warning that we have lost even the pretence of a common culture. “This loss,” he wrote, “is leading us to interpret the past wrongly, to misjudge the present, and to deny our hopes of the future".

This event takes artist and outgoing AF Chair Brian Clarke’s Two Cultures, a series of prints dedicated to C.P. Snow held within the Tate collection, as a starting point for a conversation between Clarke and the internationally acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, reflecting upon architecture’s role as a mediator at the crossroads of the arts and sciences. The dialogue will be chaired by Nicholas Serota, Tate's Director.

Clarke’s eight screenprints will be available to view before and after the event in the Prints and Drawings Room, as well as from Monday 13 January to Friday 17 January 10.30am–1pm and 2–4.30pm.

Brian Clarke became an art student at the age of twelve. He was one of the last intakes of a Ruskinian system to nurture prodigical talent in Northern art schools and  has been responsible for some of the most enduring and radical stained glass windows of the last thirty years, a field in which he is justly acknowledged as a world leader.  He was still only a teenager when he decided he would be an artist committed to architecture. He had his first cover of The Architetural Review in 1978 at the age of 25, and a major exhibition curated by the legendary art dealer Robert Fraser at the RIBA three years later.  His architectural stained glass has a global presence and he has collaborated with some of the greatest architects of our times.  Clarke also works in other media, including painting, drawing, mosaic, sculpture and tapestry, which harmonise when placed together into “Gesamtkunstwerke” (Total works of art).

His projects include the Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan, the Al Faisaliah Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and The Victoria Quarter, Leeds, UK. Brian Clarke is a visiting Professor of Architectural Art at University College London, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He recently retired as Chairman of the Architecture Foundation following a 10 year term, and is Sole Executor of The Estate of Francis Bacon.

It is difficult to think of any artist in the world who has had a greater or more intimate connection with the architectural avant garde than him. Yet he fiercely defends his independence as a painter, outside all orthodoxies. 

Zaha Hadid, founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and is internationally known for both her theoretical and academic work. Each of her dynamic and innovative projects builds on over thirty years of revolutionary exploration and research in the interrelated fields of urbanism, architecture and design. Hadid’s interest lies in the rigorous interface between architecture, landscape and geology as her practiceintegrates natural topography and human-made systems, leading to experimentation with cutting-edge technologies. Hadid’s work of the past 30 years was the subject of critically-acclaimed retrospective exhibitions at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2006 and London’s Design Museum in 2007. In 2010 she was included in TIMEmagazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.