Quartet was acquired for Davies Center in 1979, with the support of the Wisconsin Arts Board, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the Governor's Manpower Office. The set of four panel paintings hangs in the Stair 5 stairwell of Davies Center, between levels one and two.
The complex piece was inspired by T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets. Like all of Conn's paintings it develops intricate mathematical relationships that are projected geometrically and interpreted through color. Each panel in the work consists of canvas stretched over plywood. Upon these, the artist mapped out grids to divide the space uniformly. Then, working with this basic structure, he proceeded to compose his own variations in colors suggested to him by the moods and imagery of Eliot's poem.
Laurence Conn (1945–1993) was a Chicago artist and commercial space designer
who studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1968. He joined the original Crate & Barrel store in Chicago's
Old Town neighborhood early in his design career and helped develop its display space and logo. Conn designed many retail and commercial spaces throughout the Midwest. Influenced by geometric art movements such as constructivism, neo-plasticism, pop art, and the post-painterly abstractionists Kenneth Noland and Ellsworth Kelly, his paintings were exhibited in galleries in Chicago, Minneapolis and Santa Fe.
Conn lived in Neillsville, Wisconsin, in March 1979, when Quartet was the centerpiece of a one-person exhibit in the Skylight Lounge of Davies Center. Funded by a Federal CETA grant and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the project was administered by the Wisconsin Arts Board's 1978 Wisconsin Project for Artists, a program established to create works of art for public spaces.