PORTAL II — NATIONAL CATHEDRAL
The idea of posting the portal of a church was inspired by a pair of excellent photographs by Philippe Guillard (papagolf21), “Eardrum of a Church” and “Why the Heads Were Cut”. Indeed, I am posting a pair of images of portals and dedicating them to Philippe. This is the second cathedral, built in the 20th century, and distinctly influenced by English Gothic Cathedrals.
Exactly two months ago I had submitted a photo showing a detail of Frederick Hart's masterpiece, Ex Nihilo. Since then I've felt compelled to present a photo of the carving in its entirety. As for the grand edifice that features this statue, please click on National Cathedral.
The following text, comes directly from my book, 'Math and the Mona Lisa,' in which Leonardo serves as the foil for integrating mathematics, science and art (Smithsonian Books, 2004).
“In 1974 the sculptor, then thirty-one years old, was awarded the commission for three friezes in the cathedral's west facade—it is perhaps the most significant religious sculpture of the twentieth century. In architectural terms, the description of the sculptural program comprises the three portal tympana, each supported by a central column figure—one of Saint Peter, another of Adam, and a third of Saint Paul. A carving representing the creation of humans, Ex Nihilo, was to be located in the central portal and the creation of day and night, respectively, in the two flanking portals.
“Hart’s friend, the author Tom Wolfe, described the frieze as “depicting mankind emerging from the swirling rush of chaos.”19 “Swirling rush” is indeed an appropriate description for that maelstrom of eight bodies seemingly issuing forth spontaneously from bedrock. But perhaps the inspiration for the composition was in the subliminal messages we receive from nature and its patterns in sunflowers, hurricanes, and chambered nautiluses. The cross-section of the chambered nautilus could be digitally overlaid on Ex Nihilo, Hart’s masterpiece. In organizing the composition a "best fit" can be made with the curve passing through the elbows of at least five of the figures.
“Born in 1943, Hart, at just fifty-four, suffered a stroke in the right hemisphere of his brain, leaving him partially paralyzed on the left side, and at least temporarily curtailing his prodigious pace. Even though he was a right-handed sculptor the damage to the emoting, nonverbal side of the brain had put limitations on his ability to perceive objects in space, although “he was still able to conceptualize, formulate ideas, process the sensual underpinnings of those ideas, and create an expression of those ideas in a newly created image.”21 With heroic will and intensive physical therapy he regained some of the use of his left arm. Overcoming the reduction in spatial perception—the ability to perceive (not just to see) both his subject and his rendering required additional effort. He made progress in this area by concentrating harder and using mirrors as well as a specially modified camera.
“Eighteen months after his stroke, in August 1999, Hart was diagnosed with cancer, and just three days later succumbed to the ravages of the disease. He was two months shy of his fifty-sixth birthday. Although I knew and admired him immensely, I never got the chance to discuss with him the logarithmic spiral that appears to organize the composition of the frieze. But I am convinced it was decidedly not a conscious exercise; in his own words he once explained, “I saw Ex Nihilo (‘out of nothing’) as a single expression of creation, as the metamorphosis of divine spirit and energy. The figures emerge from the nothingness of chaos, caught in the moment of eternal transformation—the majesty and mystery of divine force in a state of becoming.” His widow, Lindy Hart, explained that it had been a swirling pattern “in a formation of clouds” that inspired her husband, but added, “Rick would have been captivated to see the [logarithmic] spiral superimposed.” Tradition has it that Michelangelo similarly received his vision of the Creation scene for the Sistine Chapel from an ephemeral cloud formation.
“As for the episode of Hart’s stroke, it parallels the effect of a similar stroke that the left-handed Leonardo suffered in the left hemisphere of his brain, partially paralyzing his right arm, and, in his case, effectively ending his career as a painter. For artistic creativity to thrive, the conjoining of both hemispheres of the brain appears to be important, or perhaps the various functions are not altogether the exclusive domain of one side or the other—at least in the examples of these two artists.”
A close scrutiny of the photo reveals a very fine net designed to keep pigeons from leaving their deposits on the great work of art. There also appear some whitish seam marks, the carving having been created in the artist's studio and transported to this site in pieces, and reassembled.
Nikon D-70, 18-70 mm lens, UV filter, tripod.
Critiques | Translate
berek (39563) 2007-04-30 0:46
çok güzel detay ve işcilik. tüm detayları görmek mümkün. açıklayıcı not da çok iyi. ellerinize sağlık. selamlar iyi haftalar
thea0211 (1365) 2007-04-30 0:58
beautifully carved in stone portal again - love those almost fluid silhouettes the sculptor made ... beautiful and sad his story you're sharing with us ...
your choice for a symmetric image this time was a good one, as was the light you very well used.
thank you and have a great week,
carper (96) 2007-04-30 1:38
it's very interesting Bulent,
good pov, you have a lot light here, that gives some problems with the quality, but I like the idea the note and the very good photojob here, well done, have a nice day.
AROBN54 (11473) 2007-04-30 1:54
This is astonishing. I like the whole thing so center focused in this circumstance. That is a difficult subject and I am amazed by the detail I can still get in it. I like that swirling, emerging from the chaos feeling it gives. It's wonderful and a great note, too. Kindest regards,
rigoletto (34269) 2007-04-30 2:04
Hello Dear Professor,
I cannot resist writing for this one again, though i get bored when writing for similar photos. Happy not to see the protective net, and this one is also a more comprehensive one regarding its precursor. I prefer closer shots in order to see the details more clearly, but this time you did us a favour by including the beautiful arch in the frame. TFS,
CeccoPhoto (2717) 2007-04-30 4:24
A good image this Bulent.
I like very much the little people, the left woman is very amazing.
A Good note too.
puzzle (700) 2007-04-30 5:58
tablo gibi bir fotograf!
Ertan (2988) 2007-04-30 6:28
Merhaba Bulent Abi
Harika 3 boyutlu fotograf.Detaylar muhtesem!.
meltemi (0) 2007-04-30 7:20
great perspective composition...and the lovely silhouettes carved in the stones everywhere that you have captured with excellent lighting! I knew about Hart's themes of being and becoming. Outstanding sculptor.
Very interesting note as always.
Warm regards. Stella
molla (7127) 2007-04-30 8:53
it's an interesting story about the artist I'v never heard of, and i have to say I kind of understand why. It's as far as I could se on the photo very skilled done with a fantastic tecnic But it's in my eyes kitch, and quite provotative in a way, It's like a renaissance master been watching to much adult films.. I don't know maybe its a postmodernistic masterpiece with rokoko hints. anyway it doesn't leave me undisturb.
It's a good photo anyway.
All the best
Anders Mohlin in Gnesta
feather (51130) 2007-04-30 12:22
It's good to see this wider view. You already know how much I admire Hart's work and it is wonderful that it adorns such an important building in the US capitol. Very good framing.
wilkinsonsg (8662) 2007-04-30 12:51
I liked your detail of this and now the whole image completes (as it were) the picture ;)
Well shot and the note is most welcome :)
stego (24030) 2007-04-30 17:36
It's great to see another view of this wonderful masterpiece, this time showing it all at its 'frame'. You made a very clever compo framing the arches symmetrically on the rectangle of the photo and the added image frame is also great. Perfect contrast and sharpness.
TFS, Regards, José.
ChrisJ (99304) 2007-04-30 20:42
Wonderful lighting, reveals the intricate textures of this superb sculpture. I like the tight framing. The arch nicely frames the sculpture. Good sharpness & tonal range. Tfs!
gunbud (34066) 2007-04-30 22:49
Your lens has captured wonderful sharp details in this strong light. Lovely subtle shadows are cast on this masterpiece. Very thoughtful note of the history of this fine artist.
siolaw (38284) 2007-05-01 0:48
Nice framing of this portal detail ... Light and sharpness are fine, maybe more contrast but still good details.. I like the way it is dark on one side and bright on the other side on top of sculpture... an interesting note too...
salvator (19102) 2007-05-01 3:40
Hello Bulent Bey,
Superb details, and very nice graphics, within this beautiful composition. I wish you an excellent week. Best personal regards. Salvator.
Bluejeans (64249) 2007-05-01 15:16
Ola amigo Bulent e uma bela peça de arte , cheia de detalhes ,bom enquadramento da foto !!!
Um abraço Gonçalo
xavshot (69835) 2007-05-01 15:52
jolie prise de cette partie de la cathédrale. La qualité est superbe. Beaucoup de détails sont présents dans la photo grâce à l'utilisation judicieuse du trepied .
ahmetgedikli (25482) 2007-05-01 19:25
Merhaba Sayın Hocam,
Bu şaheserleri görünce günümüz insanının aceleciliği, sabırsızlığı yanında o zamanki insanların sabrının sınırsız olduğuna kanaat getiriyorum. Yoksa insanlar bu kadar güzel, alımlı işçiliği işçiliği, desenleri nasıl işler. Mesela şimdi dijital makineler olmasa bu siteye rağbet acaba nasıl olur?
Bu arada Dikmen'le ilgili bir iki söz etmek gerekirse Dikmen kesinlikle eskisi gibi değil. Üç dönemdir belediye başkanı olan -şimdi de başkan- o bölgeyi tamamen değiştirdi. Bölüm bölüm apartmanlar, siteler kurdu. Ankara manzaralı olması nedeniyle çok rağbet gördü, o oranda da para kazanıldı. Ne diyelim, inşallah helaldir. Kısaca hocam "o eski zamandan eser kalmadı."
sothy81 (9568) 2007-05-01 21:07
This is a very nice photo you have. Great architecture. The way you captured it is wonderful in terms of graphical view. Wonderful work.
singuanti (15250) 2007-05-01 22:30
Hello Bulent. That's funny about the net and reason behind as I had no idea it was there. While I very much like all of the repeating arches in your previous post this one is strong because of the tightness of the framing and how it emphasizes the textures. This would work well as a b/w too. tfs Bulent.
saylan-cb (12738) 2007-05-02 3:57
Merhaba Bülent bey,
Mükemmel bir detay çalışması.Emeği hissetiren,simetriye uygun bir çerceve...
Cretense (68691) 2007-05-02 5:54
The "serie" continues with an equally beautiful and interesting photo. Great sharpness and contrast, beatiful details. Perfect "tight" framing. Congratulations!
jhm (140070) 2007-05-02 6:51
Hello dear Bulent,
Indeed Philippe is very good inspirator for details of a church or a cathedral. This detail show us a nice artwork picture with a lot details, one difficult something, the shadow are a little bit the difficult of the picture, but the idea and the performance are superb. Well done.
Have a nice day,
delic (6735) 2007-05-02 15:51
I must admit that I have not paid due attention to the National Cathedral in all the times I visited DC. So, I'm glad to have this chance to see your photos and read your notes. This is perfectly composed and fit in the frame. Exposure is right to give all the detail. Well done.
ALIRIZA (16423) 2007-05-03 7:05
Merhaba Bülent Abi,
Harika bir ışıkta işçiliği ve detayları çok güzel ortaya koymuşsunuz. Tablo gibi ellerinize sağlık...
Selam ve saygılarımla...
bostankorkulugu (42080) 2007-05-03 17:13
cok hos bir detay calismasi, hatta bir oncekinden daha cok begendim bunu... ilk bakista klasik havasi var bu frizini ama dikkatli bakinca cok da modern ve farkli bir eser oldugu ortada... siz de cok guzel goruntulemissiniz, elinize saglik... selamlar, sevgiler...
jmcl (14535) 2007-05-05 0:49
Back to our discussion of the last image .. the relationship of the rectangular frame .. to the arch like frame of the sculpture ... to the sculpture itself .. Here in my opinion the sculpture itself feels in a rotation that seems to center on the top .. the natural frame of the arches seems to me to restrict the rotation but amplify the reaching toward the top .. the rectangular frame (not your actual frame but the whole idea of fitting this place into a rectangle) seems to me to compress it .. to push back on that ascending reach ... a study in the fact that tools are not neutral.
papagolf21 (86754) 2007-05-09 18:17
Je ne puis m'empêcher de faire un arrêt sur cette image.
Le tympan décoré d'un magnifique bas-relief est de toute beauté.
Il y a une sorte de tableau onirique du plus bel effet à travers cette prise de vue.
devimeuxbe (58557) 2007-05-10 11:50
You have very well framed this architectural detail. The sharpness is excellent. The cropping is strong.
- Copyright: Bulent Atalay (batalay) (35745)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2007-04-23
- Categories: Architecture, Artwork
- Camera: Nikon D-70, 18-70mm DX Zoom Nikkor
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): NATIONAL CATHEDRAL, WASHINGTON, DC [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2007-04-29 23:50
- Favorites: 1 [view]