Frederick Hart: A Tribute

Weekly Standard, October 2, 1995.


Hart was discovered. . . by a stone carver from Italy, Roger Morigi. As Morigi’s apprentice, Hart learned to conceive of form in stone from the carver’s perspective, from the inside out.

By day Morigi and Hart carved stone for Washington National cathedral, an enor- mous structure in the Middle English Gothic style. By night Hart began sculpting on his own, and by the age of 25 he was pulling human forms out of clay and stone with a breathtaking facility. In 1971 he learned that the cathedral would be looking for a sculptor to adorn the entire west facade. The theme was to be the Creation, with the piece de resistance a two-story-high, 21-#.-wide stone bas-relief above the main entrance. Morigi urged Hart to enter the competi- tion. The young would-be sculp- tor spent three years conceiving and preparing a series of scale models. In 1974, at the age of 31, a complete unknown,a stone carver by trade, Hart won what would turn out to be the most monumental commission for religious sculpture in the United States in the 20th century. He spent 10 years creating the full-size models in clay and overseeing Morigi and his men as they carved Ex Nihilo, depicting mankind emerging from the swirling rush of chaos.

Weekly Standard