Hart’s Studio Recreated
The Frederick Hart Collection is not only a permanent museum and repository of sculptor Frederick Hart’s work located on Belmont University’s campus, but it is also a recreation of Hart’s home studio in Hume, Virginia.
Visitors to the Hart Museum will find they are surrounded by multiple mediums from early maquettes to completed works by Hart all positioned around his original desk and chair, just the way photographs and Hart’s family indicate his studio was designed.
The Studio Museum also offers an extensive presentation on Hart’s innovative use of clear acrylic resin, the medium Hart pioneered to cast figurative forms which he described as “sculpting with light.” The museum focuses on historical and biographical insights into Hart’s life and experiences that shaped his ideals and his critical positioning of the importance of the human figure in the visual arts.
More than 250 works were donated to Belmont by Bob Chase, Hart’s publisher and president of the Frederick Hart Foundation, and Lindy Lain Hart, the sculptor’s wife. In addition, a generous donation of Hart sculptures, including the full size Christ Rising, bronze, has been gifted to the museum by passionate Hart patrons Lee and Pam Kennedy of Sarasota, Florida.
As the largest permanent collection of Hart’s work available for public viewing, it is, in a very tangible sense, creating a sacred space for the viewer. The Frederick Hart Studio Museum offers art enthusiasts a unique opportunity to view Hart’s artistic process as the space includes works in various stages of development, molds, plasters, sculpting tools, artifacts and completed sculptures. By viewing his recreated studio, guests are allowed to step in Hart’s mind and view his process.
America’s Master Sculptor
“My feeling is that the artist’s greatest challenge is to make men see, as if for the first time. To alter and enrich man’s perception and conception of the world and himself. How? By seeing its Truth as it has never been seen before. This is to me the essential purpose and value of art.” – Frederick Hart
Frederick Hart (1943-1999) created works that forever changed the national landscape such as Washington National Cathedral’s Creation Sculptures and Three Soldiers bronze at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hart was distinguished as the 2004 recipient of the National Medal of Arts along with other significant commissions, awards and achievements during his lifetime. His sculptural work was critically acclaimed as traditional in its adherence to the human figure, radical in its sensuality and innovative in its materials.
In 1997, Hart presented a unique casting of The Cross of the Millennium to Pope John Paul II in a private ceremony at the Vatican in Rome. When it was unveiled, Pope John Paul II called the sculpture “a profound theological statement for our day.” Author Tom Wolfe noted, “Rick is — and I do not say this lightly—America’s greatest sculptor.”
Preserving the Work
Formed in 2010, the Frederick Hart Foundation is a non-profit entity with the mission to preserve and perpetuate the ideals set forth by Frederick Hart regarding the ongoing purpose and mission of figurative art, its place within contemporary culture, its need for innovation through new technologies and materials, and its vital role in affirming our society’s ideals of truth, beauty and goodness.
Bob Chase, President of Frederick Hart Foundation and Publisher of Frederick Hart works —
“Hart believed that the cultural tides were changing and that the 21st century would bring a renaissance and an age of enlightenment. He determined to create sculptures that physically and spiritually reflected this and spoke to the transforming power of beauty. It is no surprise that at a time when the art world had largely spurned the human figure, Hart chose to champion it.”
Why is the Hart Studio at Belmont?
Belmont’s relationship with Hart’s work dates back nearly two decades. In 2002, Ex Nihilo, Working Model, cast marble (Washington National Cathedral’s Creation Sculptures) was donated to Belmont by long-time University benefactor Barbara Massey Rogers. The work is installed on the south exterior wall of the University’s Chapel, facing the lobby of the Ayers Academic Center.
Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Frederick Hart was a pioneer in his time, and the legacy and impact of his art is immeasurable. His work invites us to awaken to the divine forces in our world while keeping us grounded in the goodness, truth and beauty found in everyday life. To have so much of his work available for viewing on this campus is an invaluable gift, one that I believe will prove inspirational for our students and the broader community for generations to come.”
Lindy Lain Hart, wife of the artist. – “In the spring of 2004, Belmont University showcased the art and legacy of my husband with the largest exhibition at that time entitled ‘The Creative Spirit.’ This bold exhibition forged a powerful and enduring alliance which set the stage for the 2019 opening of The Frederick Hart Studio and Museum at Belmont University. I am personally grateful that we can expand and deepen the singular and major force of the Frederick Hart legacy. I consider Belmont to be gifting a national treasure to the University and Nashville.”