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Opus 40

Opus 40 is an immense composition of finely fitted stone, rising in ramps and swirling terraces around pools and trees and fountains out of the rock bed of an abandoned bluestone quarry. It spreads out over more than six acres.

It is the product of more thirty-seven years of a man's life. His name was Harvey Fite. He worked alone, using his hands and traditional quarryman's tools, while building his masterpiece: Opus 40.

Harvey Fite was a sculptor of wood and stone. In May of 1938 he found the perfect place to work: an abandoned bluestone quarry in the middle of the woods in the tiny hamlet of High Woods, N.Y He bought this twelve-acre paradise of natural materials from the widow of the last quarrymaster, and built his house and studio on the eastern lip of the quarry.

In that same summer, he received an invitation from the Carnegie Institute to do restoration work on ancient Mayan sculpture in Copan, Honduras. He was deeply impressed by the philosophical strength and understanding of materials that emerged from the art of the Maya.

The following spring he began clearing away the rubble in his quarry; and quietly, without even being aware of it himself at the time, Fite had begun his Opus 40.

In May of 1976, Harvey Fite was killed in an accidental fall onto the rocks of the quarry sculpture to which he had devoted the last thirty-seven years of his life. He was seventy-two years old.

There is an unfinished wall, and there are piles of bluestone where he would have created more ramps and terraces as he extended his design. But Opus 40 is finished, and in a way it is as complete as it would ever have been. It was the product of Fite's ceaseless vision, and could only have been stopped with his death.

Visiting Opus 40

Open Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend 12 noon - 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holiday Mondays. $6 per adult, $5 students and seniors, $3 school age children, Children under 5 free with an adult.

Specifics on visiting Opus 40 were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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