Presenting the history of American Art as seen through the eyes of Provincetown



Dimitri Hadzi


 

Biography

Known for his abstracted and simplified figures, Dimitri Hadzi's (1921-2006)sculpture is also readily identified for its unique "articulated" textured surfaces evolved over his fifty-year career.

As Boghosian once stated: "There has always been a lyricism about the three of us exhibiting together." Resika said in a recent article in Art New England, “Hadzi was a generous friend and teacher. He was an exemplar of the totally committed artist.”

Hadzi's bronze surfaces, laboriously finished and patinated by the sculptor, have been described by Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art at the Harvard University Arts Museums as “bearing the traces of knife and trowel, the memory of scraped wax and spattered plaster applied and articulated by a sure, never fussy hand...they are also ‘articulate’ in that they make light speak.”

In Provincetown Arts, Hadzi was quoted as equating the basic feeling in his work to geological phenomena: “It is not unlike the layering of sediment deposits--the metamorphic phases where those sediments (experience) are compressed by time (contemplation) and action to convert or transform (crystallize) ideas into new images. Then, of course, the igneous or volcanic, the violent upheavals or the internal pressures that completely and dramatically alter and transfix concepts into solid reality.” Born in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1921, Hadzi lived and worked in Rome, the "Eternal City," for twenty-five years. From these two very rich sources comes the dual strength of Hadzi’s art that draws on a sculptural tradition going back to the ancients while deftly balancing abstract and figurative impulses.

Growing up during the Depression, Hadzi’s Greek immigrant parents thought chemistry, not art, a "real" profession. So chemistry is what he studied -- for a brief moment. Hadzi, always driven to create, took the entrance exam to Cooper Union. He passed, dropped chemistry, and was on his way. Graduating with honors from Cooper Union in 1950, Hadzi was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for the study of stone sculpture in Greece, where he first met his mentor, Henry Moore. After traveling to Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, Hadzi went to Rome. He once described the experience “Everyone was there -- Fellini, Afro, Carlo Levi, Mirko. It was the collecting place of movie stars and it was just one big intellectual circle. Over time, I met everyone.”

Hadzi returned to the United States in 1975 to teach at Harvard where he remained affiliated until he retired in 1989. Both Paul Resika and Romolo Del Deo refer to Hadzi’s great generosity in encouraging his students. Romolo Del Deo, later a studio assistant of Hadzi’s at Harvard (and also an exhibiting artist of the Berta Walker Gallery), said in Art New England: “Hadzi encouraged his students to study their mistakes or their damaged sculptures, for ‘the grain of new thinking that lay in the apparent disasters.”

In 1962, Hadzi was selected, along with Louise Nevelson, to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale. He received major commissions throughout his career, including the ecumenical bronze doors for St. Paul’s Within-the-Walls in Rome; The Hunt, installed at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, in 1966; Thermopylae, the 16-foot-tall sculpture we all know in Boston’s Government Center, commissioned by Walter Gropius for the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building; Omphalos at Harvard Square; the 60-foot-high mixed-stone fountain at Copley Place, and Elmo at MIT.

Other awards and grants include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, St. Gaudens Award, and he was an elected Fellow in both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a continuing member of The Signet Society, Harvard University, and the National Academy.

Hadzi is represented in the permanent collections of virtually every major Museum in the United States including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Guggenheim Museum. Receiving over twenty sculpture commissions, Hadzi’s work appears in public squares, concert halls, office buildings and universities all over the world.

Exhibitions