Tuesday, 21 April 2009

‘Ex Nihilo’ – Frederick Hart

Frederick Hart (1943-1999) declared “If art is to flourish in the 21st century, it must renew its moral authority by rededicating itself to life. It must be an enriching, ennobling and vital partner in the public pursuit of civilization.”  Tom Wolfe called him both America’s greatest sculptor, and “the artist the art world couldn’t see.”

ex nihilo detail Ex Nihilo, a giant relief frieze at Washington’s National Cathedral, of which the images shown here are just a portion, was, he said, “the metamorphosis of divine spirit and energy. The figures emerge from the nothingness of chaos, caught in the moment of eternal transformation — the majesty and mystery of divine force in a state of becoming."  More images here.

A website dedicated to his sculpture is here.
[Hat tip American Renaissance for the Twenty-First Century (ART)]


  1. PC,

    You have a real knack for discovering great artists in the most unlikely places. 1943-1999? Who would have thought?

    Great details. I'll have to search for the whole work. Reminiscent of Rodin's Gates of Hell, only much more benevolent.

  2. Thank you, sirs. :-)

    "Reminiscent of Rodin's Gates of Hell, only much more benevolent."

    That's it exactly. Although of course they're depicting different events from different books.

  3. Thanks PC - that is a truly awesome piece of work.

    I would never have seen or discovered this.

    Just another reason why I am compelled to visit your blog on a regular basis


    The mind boggles at the skill required to render such perfection out of a bare block of nothing

  4. Wasn't this used and animated in the movie "the devils advocate' ??

  5. Thanks Peter...awesome!

    As with Alexandra York's interpretation of Rodin's 'Thinker' (incidently my personal favourite), works with the 'becoming' theme always seem to be few and far between...revisiting is always welcome.

  6. "The mind boggles at the skill required to render such perfection out of a bare block of nothing"

    In this case, however, sculptor Hart, sculpted the image in clay. The clay was then destroyed producing the plaster carving model(s), upon which the final carved stones are based. The stone on the front of Washington National Cathedral was carved by Cathedral Master Carver Vincent Palumbo (1936-2000), Patrick Plunkett and others in the Cathedral's stone carving crew, which, incidentally, had, long since, ceased to include Hart.


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