Frederick Hart (sculptor)
|Birth name||Frederick Elliott Hart|
|Born||June 7, 1943
|Died||August 13, 1999
|Training||1967 apprenticeship, Washington National Cathedral|
|Movement||Realism (visual arts)|
|Works||The Creation, Washington National Cathedral|
|Awards||National Medal of Arts 2004; Presidential Award for Design Excellence, Vietnam Memorial 1988; Gold Line Congressional Tribute 1999; Henry Hering Award, National Sculpture Society 1987|
Frederick Elliott Hart (June 7, 1943 in Atlanta, Georgia - August 13, 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland) was an American sculptor, best known for his public monuments and works of art in bronze, marble, and clear acrylic (a technique he coined as "sculpting with light").
- 1 Biography
- 2 National Monuments
- 3 Innovation
- 4 Honors
- 5 Frederick Hart quotes
- 6 Notable works
- 7 Awards and accolades
- 8 Gallery
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Hart on born in Atlanta, Georgia to Joanna Elliott (an unsuccessful actress) and Frederick William Hart, who served in the United States Navy during World War II. His older brother, Frederick William, died as an infant. The Hart family was Presbyterian, and he was baptised as a baby. His mother contracted scarlett fever and died in 1945; Frederick was two, and lived with his maternal grandmother and aunt in South Carolina. His father married Myrtis Mildred Hailey in 1947 after being discharged by the Navy, and the family returned to Atlanta, where his father worked as a newspaper reporter. Half sister Chelsey Hart was born in 1949, and as she grew up, she and Frederick became close. The Hart family moved to Virginia, near the U.S. capital in 1956. Young Hart loved to read but had no interest in school. After failing ninth grade, he is sent to South Carolina to live with his Aunt Essie and repeat ninth grade. Hart still cared little about school, so the principal challenged him to take the A.C.T. to show how little he knew. After achieving a near perfect score, the principal helped the sixteen-year old Hart apply and gain admission to the University of South Carolina in 1959. After a short time at South Carolina, Hart participated in a 1961 civil rights protest with black students. Hart was arrested, jailed and kicked out of school. When informed that the Ku Klux Klan was looking for him, he relocated, but rather than return to his father's home, Hart moved to Washington, D.C.. In 1965, doctors determined that his sister Chelsey had leukemia, and she died one year later. While grieving for his sister, Hart "stumbles into a sculpture class at the Corcoran School of Art and is blown away."
Hart worked briefly at the Giorgio Gianetti Architectural Plaster Studio in 1966, and assisted sculptor Felix de Weldon before taking a job as mail clerk at the Washington National Cathedral. Once there, he convinced master stone cutter Roger Morigi to offer him an apprenticeship in stone carving. His 1969 work titled, "Family" expressed his feelings about Chelsey's premature death at age 16. Within five years, he achieved the title of stone carver.
The Washington National Cathedral issued a "Charge to the Artist" in 1971 which governed the selection process for the artist who would be commissioned to design the facade at the west entrance of the cathedral. Thomas Wolfe called it the biggest and most prestigious commission for religious sculpture in 20th century America.
Hart opened an unheated studio in a garage to begin work on his submission for the design competition. To pay the bills, he relied on private commissions for small projects. He invented and patented an acrylic method of sculpture, which he described as sculpting with light.
After being awarded the cathedral commission, Hart did much of his work at night, and spent afternoons hanging out near Dupont Circle drinking coffee, debating issues and flirting. One day, a gorgeous woman walking home caught his eye, and he began to look for her every day. Finally, he waited for her, introduced himself, and asked her to pose for his sculpture. She agreed, and became a recurring figure in Hart's work for the rest of his career. He married the former Lindy Lain on December 1, 1978 in a civil ceremony; first son Frederick Lain Hart was born June 21, 1980, and second son Alexander Thaddeus Hart was born January 7, 1983.
While doing research for the cathedral project, Hart studied the Book of Genesis and the story of the Creation for inspiration. Wolfe suggests that Hart fell in love with God. Hart became a Roman Catholic and regarded his talent as a gift from God. On June 2, 1980, the Harts' marriage was blessed at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral by the Catholic Church.
Washington National Cathedral
Hart gained international stature for his The Creation sculptures on the west façade of Washington National Cathedral, which include three tympana, Ex Nihilo (Out of Nothing), Creation of Day and Creation of Night, and three trumeau figures, St. Peter, St. Paul and Adam carved in Indiana limestone. The cathedral, located in Washington, D.C., is the sixth largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The works were commissioned in 1974, and dedicated between 1978 and 1984. Vanna Bonta was a model of Woman for "Ex Nihilo".
The 1997 film The Devil's Advocate utilized a sculpture similar to Ex Nihilo. Hart filed suit, claiming the film's sculpture infringed on his rights under copyright laws. After a federal judge ruled that the film's video release would be delayed until the case went to trial unless a settlement was reached, Warner Bros. agreed to edit the scene for future releases and to attach stickers to unedited videotapes to indicate there was no relation between the sculpture in the film and Hart's work.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Presidential and Senate
Hart is also represented in the U.S. Senate by the heroic marble statue of Senator Richard Russell in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building; the bronze bust of Senator Strom Thurmond, installed in the Strom Thurmond Room of the Capitol Building; and the marble bust of J. Danforth Quayle created for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection.
Hart was also commissioned to create the James Earl Carter Presidential Statue in bronze installed at the Georgia State House, Atlanta.
Hart pioneered the use of clear acrylic resin to create cast figurative sculptures. He patented the process by which one clear acrylic sculpture was embedded within another. In 1997, Hart presented a unique casting of The Cross of the Millennium to Pope John Paul II in a private ceremony at the Vatican in Rome. When it was unveiled Pope John Paul II called this sculpture “a profound theological statement for our day.”
Frederick Hart was articulate in describing the passion and vision that drove him to create such works of beauty. He said, “I believe that art has a moral responsibility, that it must pursue something higher than itself. Art must be a part of life. It must exist in the domain of the common man. It must be an enriching, ennobling, and vital partner in the public pursuit of civilization. It should be a majestic presence in everyday life just as it was in the past.”
Hart is recognized for creating work that is at once traditional in its adherence to the human figure, radical in its sensuality, and innovative in its materials.
Michael Novak, author of Frederick Hart: Changing Tides, wrote in 2004, “The work of Frederick Hart is changing the world of art,” vindicating the artist’s strong belief that with the new century would come changing tides in the style, form, and direction of the arts.
Hart was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government. The proclamation signed by President George W. Bush on November 17, 2004 states the following: “For his important body of work—including the Washington National Cathedral's Creation Sculptures and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial's Three Soldiers—which heralded a new age for contemporary public art.” This distinction places him in the ranks of the most distinguished American artists of the 20th century.
Classic traditions - Centerists
Hart's work uniquely contrasted in the late 20th-century art world dominated by Modernist and Post-Modernist art movements. He championed the realistic representation of the human form, and believed in a more traditionally defined moral responsibility of the artist. His works were highly imitative of classic art traditions, but he worked in new medium materials made possible by modern technology.
In his last years he began to summon to his estate a cadre of like-minded souls, a handful of artists, poets and philosophers, a dedicated little derrire garde (to borrow a term from the composer Stefania de Kenessey) to gird for the battle to take art back from the Modernists. They called themselves the Centerists.
In his lifetime, Hart engaged in the discussions of art’s philosophical and sociological significance. It is not the first case in art history that an artist's work was either controversial or invisible to critics while gaining a place in the art of eons. Harts work rose almost unnoticed to the highest possible longevity and renown, carved in stone on the National Cathedral and standing as national monuments.
In a memorial tribute to the sculptor at the Senate, Reverend Stephen Happel said, "The [National Cathedral] facade sculptures reach out from the center to the edges of day and night and extend themselves into the city and our world. They proselytize; they preach; they evangelize about how the world could be if values of beauty and truth were embraced."
Frederick Hart quotes
- "Art must touch our lives, our fears and cares – evoke our dreams and give hope to the darkness."
- "It's like touching hands with a generation that is no more." (about apprenticeship with master stone carvers)
- "It was a feeling of fulfilling my destiny." (winning the Creation commission)
- The Three Soldiers sculpture - Located at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dedicated in 1984.
- The Creation Sculptures - on the west facade of Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Commissioned in 1974, and dedicated between 1978 and 1984.
- President James Earl Carter sculpture - Located at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Senator Richard B. Russell sculpture - Located in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Dedicated in 1996.
- The Cross of the Millennium - An acrylic sculpture presented to Pope John Paul II in 1997 in honor of 50 years of priesthood.
- Fauquier County Veterans' Memorial, Operation Desert Storm - Warrenton, VA, 40' bronze collaboration with sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter, 1991.
- Senator Strom Thurmond - Bronze bust installed in the Strom Thurmond Room of the Capitol Building.
- J. Danforth Quayle - Marble bust created for the Senate's Vice Presidential Bust Collection.
- Songs of Grace - acrylic sculpture, is installed in 2005 in the permanent collection at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- Three Soldiers, Detail - a bronze sculpture is installed in 2008 and dedicated by Jan C. Scruggs, Founder, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, Apalachicola, Florida.
Awards and accolades
- Hart was awarded a patent for inventing a unique process of embedding one acrylic sculpture within another.
- In 1985 President Ronald Reagan appointed Hart to a five-year term on the Commission of Fine Arts, a seven-member committee that advises the U.S. Government on matters pertaining the arts, and guides the architectural development of the nation's capital.
- In 1987 Hart received the Henry Hering Award from the National Sculpture Society for sculpture in an architectural setting, shared with architect Philip Frohman (National Cathedral work).
- In 1988 he was the recipient of the quadrennial Presidential Design Excellence Award (Vietnam Memorial work).
- In 1993 Hart received an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina for his "ability to create art that uplifts the human spirit, his commitment to the ideal that art must renew its moral authority by rededicating itself to life, his skill in creating works that compel attention as they embrace the concerns of mankind, and his contributions to the rich cultural heritage of our nation."
- In 1998 he receives the first annual Newington-Cropsey Foundation Award for Excellence in the Arts.
- In 2004 Hart was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government.
- In 2005 Songs of Grace is installed in the permanent collection at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The work is received by Museum Director Mikhail Piotrovsky as a gift from the American people. In the official acceptance speech the director notes that this work is important in that it signifies their desire to establish a 20th-century collection.
- In 2008 the premiere of the ballet, Between Stillness, inspired by the sculpture, Ex Nihilo, is conceived and staged by the University of Louisville and the Louisville Ballet, Louisville, Kentucky.
- In 2008 the monograph, Frederick Hart, The Complete Works, Butler Books, Publisher, is awarded a silver medal in the National Fine Art Category by Independent Publisher Book Awards.
- In 2008 The Midwest Book Review offers an impressive endorsement of the monograph stating, “No academic university, 20th Century art or American sculpture collection can be considered comprehensive without the inclusion of the Butler Books' superbly published edition of "Frederick Hart: The Complete Works"! – Reviewed by Michael J. Carson. Volume 7, Number 11, November 2007.
- In September 2008 Ex Nihilo, Fragment No.8 is installed at the Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine, Florida.
- "Frederick Hart". The Hart Collection. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- Wolfe, Thomas E. (January 2, 2000). "The Lives they Lived: Frederick Hart". New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "Hart Bronze". Angela King Gallery. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- The Lives They Lived: Frederick Hart, New York Times; January 2, 2000
- "Cathedral secrets - "Hart created beauty, and won"". Zimbio. February 22, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "And God Created ... Vanna Bonta". Waleg Celebrities. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- "The Devil's Advocate". Benedict.com. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- "Movie studio settles claim over copyrighted sculpture". Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. February 23, 1998. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- Michael Novak,Frederick Hart: Changing Tides, 2005, Hudson Hills Press
- Memorial to Frederick Hart:Library of Congress
- Frederick Turner and Michael Novak, Frederick Hart: Changing Tides, 2005, Hudson Hills Press ISBN 1-55595-233-X
- Donald Kuspit and Frederick Turner, Frederick Hart, The Complete Works, 2007,Butler Books ISBN 1-884532-85-3
- J. Carter Brown and Tom Wolfe, Frederick Hart: Sculptor, 1995, Hudson Hills Press ISBN 1-55595-120-1
- James Cooper, Editor and Publisher, American Arts Quarterly
- Frederick Hart, by Donald Kuspit; Butler Books (September 15, 2007); ISBN 978-1-884532-85-6
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