Artist: Frederick Hart
Title: Ex Nihilo, Fragment No. 2, (Full Scale)
Medium: Bronze sculpture
Size: 38 5/8" (plus 4" base) x 33 3/4" x 10 3/4"
Inscription: Signed and numbered
Edition 65 Numbered; I-X Artists Proofs; A-B Collaborators Proofs
Condition: Very good condition overall, please request condition report for full details
Documentation: Includes Gallery Certificate of Authenticity
A dynamic, chaotic, and incredibly lifelike ode to the creation of mankind, “Ex Nihlo” is Frederick Hart’s most famous work and one of the most significant contemporary religious sculptures the world. Its full form graces the archway of the Washington National Cathedral and stands 21 feet wide and two stories tall. Although much of “Ex Nihlo’s” symbolism is drawn from the dramatic composition, “Fragment No. 2” demonstrates that an equal amount of meaning can be found in the details of the work. In its full context, “Ex Nihlo” depicts half formed bodies appearing from the darkness, and although “Fragment No. 2” truncates before we can see the darkness from which the form emerges, we are still able to understand and appreciate Hart’s vision. Hart is well known for his ability to capture complex emotions in his artwork, and the conflicting expression on the figure’s face are open to the viewer’s interpretation. Frederick Hart’s “Ex Nihilo, Fragment No. 2, (Full Scale)” is signed and numbered by the artist and comes with a gallery certificate of authenticity.
As one of America’s greatest representational artists, Frederick Hart left a lasting and unique mark in the world of modern sculpture. Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1943, he studied at the University of South Carolina and after protesting alongside black students during the Civil rights movement, he moved to Washington D.C. to continue his studies at the Corcoran School of Art. Fascinated with the human figure and the classical approach, he started developing his career in 1966 as a stone carver apprentice at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Leaving the Cathedral in 1971, Hart started his own studio practice but had little success in the first years. In 1974, he was awarded the project by the Cathedral to create a contemporary interpretation of The Creation, an event that would change his life. Soon, Hart’s career took a turn for the better and in the upcoming decades, he rose to national prominence, becoming a government art advisor in 1985 and receiving the prestigious Henry Hering Award from the National Sculpture Society in 1987.
Best known for his architectural public sculpture work, Frederick Hart remained loyal to the figurative art, speaking very critically of abstract and similar art movements. He was the voice of moral responsibility among artists and the propagator of the classical aesthetic notions in art, representing the group of like-minded artists called “The Centerists”. "My work isn't art for art's sake, it's about life. I have no patience with obscure or unintelligible art - I want to be understood," he used to say, alluding to the higher aspirations and clear message his art delivered. Frederick Hart’s works are celebrated for their beauty and flawless execution, always in movement, layered with emotion, often depicting a form of religious trance or heightened state of awareness. With strong religious undertones, they can be seen as universal allegories, so rare, yet necessary in contemporary life and art.
Despite his traditional views on the artistic substance, Hart was a pioneer in the use of transparent acrylic resin in the creation of figurative sculptures. He patented a process of embedding one sculpture inside another, an innovative method that was not characteristic for religious (or other) sculpture until that time.
Hart died on August 13, 1999, in Baltimore, Maryland.