Artist: Frederick Hart
Title: Illuminata III
Medium: Sculpture Lucite
Dimensions: 16.5" x 9"
Condition: Museum quality condition with a few scuffs on the bottom
Frederick Hart lived a short, but remarkable life. In 2000 Tom Wolfe profiled Hart for The New York Times Magazine in an article called: The Artist the Art World Couldn't See. "I have not attempted to try to relive or recreate the past; but I have sought guidance from those timeless elements in the past which remain valid and vital to the future ... The purpose of my art is to seek beauty and truth, and to explore and glorify the human being and the universe."
Frederick Hart Frederick Hart, a sculptor best known for his ''Three Soldiers'' statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and for his ''Creation'' sculptures at the National Cathedral in Washington, died on Friday at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 56 and lived in Hume, Va. The cause was lung cancer, said his wife, Lindy. Mr. Hart's three American soldiers seem to be emerging from a wooded glen in Vietnam. The bronze was executed to resolve a dispute over the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. J. Carter Brown, the chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, recalled that many veterans protested when the commission selected Maya Lin's stark pair of 200-foot walls to honor the Americans killed in Vietnam, preferring a more realistic approach for a memorial.
Mr. Hart had finished third in the competition, competing in a field of 1,450 anonymous submissions, Mr. Brown said, and he was eventually called on to do his sculpture as well. ''The Rick Hart sculpture is deferential to the Maya Lin,'' Mr. Brown said. ''It solved the problem of the culture wars that broke out over the monument.'' Ms. Lin's work, which lists the names of all the American dead, was able to go forward because of the compromise and has since become one of the most visited monuments in Washington. Mr. Hart's sculpture was erected in 1984.
In an interview with Mr. Hart in The Washingtonian magazine last year, Barbara Matusow suggested that Mr. Hart was less attracted to modern 20th-century sculpture than to the lush romanticism of the 19th century, and he agreed. ''I would have been a far more compatible personality if I'd been born in that age,'' he said. ''I envied that world, which adhered to the values I believe in -- beauty, decorum, elegance and classicism.'' That attitude is reflected in ''Ex Nihilo,'' a 1983 work that depicts the Creation above the doors of the west front of the National Cathedral. Among those who posed for figures in the Creation were Mr. Hart's wife. She survives him along with their two sons, Lain and Alexander. Some critics faulted Mr. Hart for directing his talent toward less enduring themes, especially a line of acrylic sculptures, generally busts of people, that he told Ms. Matusow had earned him $8 million since he began selling them in the 1980's.
Mr. Hart was born in Atlanta and grew up in South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina, the Corcoran School of Art and American University. He told The Washingtonian that he learned sculpture by apprenticing at Gianetti's, an ornamental plasterer in Rockville, Md., that employed Italian immigrant artisans, and for Felix de Weldon, the sculptor of the Iwo Jima memorial. After being turned down repeatedly, Mr. Hart was hired as an apprentice by Roger Morigi, the master stone carver of the National Cathedral. ''In the contemporary spectrum,'' said Mr. Brown, the chairman emeritus of the National Gallery of Art, ''he represents one end of it in comparison to contemporary sculptors who are working in total abstraction or dissolving the medium into mutations. ''In his chosen end of it, he was as good as they get, a superb craftsman, a deeply spiritual person who was concerned with spiritual values.''