Frank Hayden

1934 - 1988

Frank Hayden is one of Louisiana’s preeminent sculptors. He is best known for his public commissions, many of which are concentrated in and around Baton Rouge where he resided from 1961 until his untimely death. A devout Christian, Hayden’s artwork reflects deep spiritual and humanistic concerns.  Fellowship, family, Christian values, war and civil rights are common themes. Although primarily figurative, his sculptural forms are stylized and often abstracted.  Words sometimes are inscribed onto the surface. Hayden worked in clay, plaster, fiberglass, and stone. He was heavily influenced by the religious art of Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962). Like his mentor, he made use of the European Modernist tradition to cast in bronze by means of the lost wax process. It is Hayden’s works carved of wood that serve best to demonstrate Hayden’s skill and sensitivity to form and subject. Inspired by African tribal art, his carved wood pieces exemplify formal simplicity and quiet dignity. These qualities are illustrated in A Sequence of Life. The mahogany sculpture consists of seven elements, recalling the seven days of the week, the seven days of creation, and the seven phases of human life.

Raised by his mother in a Memphis housing project, he spent his youth at a nearby Roman Catholic school where the nuns instilled in him a strong work ethic and respect for his fellow man. An academic scholarship enabled him to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, where he first encountered sculpting. After graduating in 1957, Hayden received offers of scholarships to numerous graduate art programs throughout the country. He selected the University of Notre Dame, choosing to study under noted Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962), whose influence he readily acknowledged.

Hayden completed postgraduate work at Iowa State University before studying abroad in Munich, Stockholm, and Copenhagen as the recipient of several prestigious scholarships, including a Fulbright Fellowship. In 1962, he joined the faculty of Southern University in Baton Rouge where he taught sculpture and drawing for 27 years. In 1985, the faculty honored him with the university’s first Distinguished Professor Award. Hayden died tragically at the young age of 53.


Frank Hayden, A Sequence of Life, 1974, Honduran mahogany wood, Louisiana Art & Science Museum Collection, L5.2002.001

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