Frederick Hart (American, 1943–1999) was a sculptor born in Atlanta, GA. His mother died of scarlet fever in 1945, and he lived with his aunt and grandmother until his father was discharged from the Navy in 1947. His father later remarried, and had a daughter named Chesley. In 1959, Hart was accepted to the University of South Carolina in Columbia, but was expelled when he was found to be the only white person who participated in a civil rights demonstration. Tragically, in 1966, Chesley died from leukemia at just 16 years old. The impact of this event went on to influence Hart’s work. The same year his sister passed away, Hart went to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an apprentice with the Giorgio Gianetti Architectural Plaster Studio. Later, from 1967 to 1971, he worked as an apprentice at the Washington National Cathedral, where he attained the rank of stone carver under the mentorship of Richard Feller and Roger Morigi.

Hart’s career gained momentum when, in 1974, he won an international competition to design an area of the main entrance to the Washington National Cathedral. In 1975, he began pioneering the use of clear acrylic resin in statues with his work entitled Child. In 1979, he created Processional Cross, which was used in a mass by Pope John Paul II at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In 1982, Hart received two important commissions, one from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to create a figurative sculpture, and the other from the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution to make a bronze bust of NASA’s James Webb. In 1984, he completed the bronze sculpture Three Soldiers. This was Hart’s best-known work; the piece was installed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and dedicated by Ronald Reagan.

The artist received many awards throughout his career, including the Presidential Award for Design Excellence for Three Soldiers in 1988, and the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1998. Hart passed away on August 13, 1999, in Baltimore, MD. His work continued to be highly praised after his death, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the US government, in 2004.

Timeline

1943
Born Frederick Elliott Hart on November 3, Atlanta, GA, and raised in South Carolina
1966–1968
Apprentices with Giorgio Gianetti Architectural Plaster Studio and assists sculptors Felix de Weldon, Carl Mose, Don Turano, and Heinz Warnecke
1967–1971
Apprenticed with stone sculptor Roger Morigi at the Washington National Cathedral
1974
Wins international competition to design the sculptural program for main entrance of Washington National Cathedral. The program comprises three life-size statues, Adam, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul, and three monumental relief panels, Creation of Night, Creation of Day, and Ex Nihilo (Out of Nothing)
1975
Realizes first work in cast clear acrylic resin, the Child
1976
Appointed to the Sacred Arts Commission for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington
1979
Creates Processional Cross for Pope John Paul II’s historic Mass on the National Mall, Washington, D.C.
1982
Receives commission for Three Soldiers bronze installed at site of Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. in 1984, dedicated by President Reagan in 1984.
Commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, to create a bronze bust of James Webb of NASA
1984
Commissioned to create the Age of Light, a series of twelve works in clear acrylic resin. The commission is completed over seven years
1985
Appointed by President Reagan to a five-year term on the United States Commission of Fine Arts, a seven-member committee that advises the United States Government on matters pertaining to the arts, and guides the architectural development of the nation's capital
1986
Appointed to the board of trustees, Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
1987
Built a country home on 135 acres of open farmland in the Piedmont region of northern Virginia. Names the farm Chesley in honor of his late sister
1987
With Philip Frohman, architect of Washington National Cathedral from 1921 to 1971, receives Henry Hering Award for the Creation Sculptures at Washington National Cathedral from the National Sculpture Society, New York
1987
Participates in “100 Years of Figurative Sculpture,” an invitational exhibition in Philadelphia in conjunction with the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution
1988
Receives the Presidential Award for Design Excellence, given once every four years, for Three Soldiers
1989
Commissioned to create the Creation Sculptures: Themes and Variations, a series of eight sculptures (four clear acrylic resins and four bronzes). This commission is completed over six years
1991
Creates and donates a comic bust of Mark Twain for the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA)
1991
Commissioned to create Dreams, Visions, and Visitations, a series of four works in clear acrylic resin. This commission is completed over five years
1991
Receives the Arthur Ross Award in Sculpture, created to celebrate excellence in the classical tradition, and recognizing the achievements and contributions of architects, painters, sculptors, artisans, landscape designers, educators, publishers, patrons, and others dedicated to preserving and advancing the classical tradition
1991
Commissioned to create the Herald, a monumental bronze angel, for the Newington-Cropsey Foundation and Cultural Studies Center, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
1992
Unveils Cross of the Millennium at Easter Sunrise Service, Arlington National Cemetery
1992
Commissioned to create the James Earl Carter Presidential Statue in bronze for the Georgia State House grounds, Atlanta
1993
Awarded honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina
1994
Installs the James Earl Carter Presidential Statue, a larger-than-life-size bronze on the Georgia State House grounds, Atlanta
1994
Hudson Hills Press publishes the first monograph, Frederick Hart, Sculptor
1994
Commissioned by Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Andover, Kansas, to create a life-size Cross of the Millennium in clear acrylic resin
1996
Richard B. Russell Jr. Memorial Statue, installed and dedicated in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
1997
Lord Mountbatten, bronze portrait placed by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, in his private garden at Highgrove
1997
Senator Strom Thurmond, portrait bust created for the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
1997
The Cross of the Millennium, created in clear acrylic resin, presented to His Holiness Pope John Paul II in a private ceremony at the Vatican
1997
Admitted to the Order of Saint John as Serving Brother by Queen Elizabeth II
1998
Presents Daughters of Odessa, a three-quarter life-size bronze sculpture to his Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales,
1998
Receives the first annual Newington-Cropsey Foundation Award for Excellence in the Arts
1998
PBS documentary Rodin & Hart, Master Sculptors, receives an Emmy Award, Washington
1999
Featured speaker for Memorial Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
1999
Dies August 13 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, M.D.
1999
Posthumously awarded honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from American University
2000
Honored by the National Sculpture Society by dedicating its Spring 2000 issue of Sculpture Review to Hart and his body of work
2000
Honored by Washington National Cathedral with a memorial tribute and sculpture exhibition: "Transcendence and Renewal"
2000
Life Achievement Award from Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, Connecticut, is posthumously bestowed
2004
President George W. Bush hosts Mrs. Hart and her two sons at the White House for the posthumous presentation of The National Medal of Art, the highest award the US Government can give to an artist
2005
Presentation of Daughters of Odessa: Songs of Grace to the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
2007
Butler Books publishes the third monograph, Frederick Hart: The Complete Works
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
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

Exhibitions

2007
“Giving Form to Spirit,” at the University of Louisville, Kentucky
2004
“The Creative Spirit: The Sculpture of Frederick Hart,” at the Leu Art Gallery and the Leu Center for the Visual Arts, Belmont University, Nashville
2004
“The Creative Spirit: The Sculpture of Frederick Hart,” at the Las Vegas Art Museum, (affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.)
2002
“Frederick Hart: A Celebration of Spirit,” at the McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina