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Fred Nall Hollis (Nall Art Foundation/Facebook)

Born in Troy, Alabama, Fred Nall Hollis—known professionally as Nall—is the definition of a renaissance man. The artist has been working across multiple mediums—including paintings, mosaics, line engravings, sculpture, glassware, and jewelry—for the past 50 years. After attending the University of Alabama and graduating with degrees in art, psychology, and political science, he was admitted to Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris in 1971. Since then, Nall has enjoyed a fruitful career creating thousands of pieces of fine art that are now spread as expansively as his travels, which have spanned decades and continents. Today, the 73-year-old isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He still creates from his studio in Fairhope, where he regularly offers apprenticeships to burgeoning high school artists.  

1. He was trained by Salvador Dali.

During Nall’s time in Paris, famous Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali served as one of his greatest mentors. Dali famously told Nall to “Draw from life, draw, again and again…”. Given his enduring career, Dali’s words have stuck with Nall years and years later. But Nall’s list of legendary artist friends doesn’t end with Dali; he’s also close friends with Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. 

2. He cooked dinner for James Baldwin the night Baldwin died.

Nall became good friends with James Baldwin’s brother David while living in France. A longtime fan of Baldwin’s writing, when David introduced the pair, Nall was in awe of meeting the creative genius. During the time of their meeting, Baldwin was dying of stomach cancer. Nall remembers thanking Baldwin for liberating him from the guilt of Southern bigotry in relation to homosexuality. On the night Baldwin passed, Nall made him collard greens and cornbread. 

3. He’s travelled and lived all over the world. 

Nall’s travels had only just begun when he moved to Paris for art school. Following his time there, he traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, and North Africa. There he drew inspiration from Arabic and Byzantine architecture, melding them with Alabama quilt patterns and geometric forms to create original pieces. After his travels there, he moved to Nice, France and shortly after Vence, France where he purchased an art studio and began publishing line engravings. In addition, Nall has also traveled extensively in India, Mexico, and the Middle East. 

‘Thanksgiving RSVP’ at Troy University Nall Museum (Nall Art Foundation/Facebook)

4. He creates in a huge variety of media.

One of the most fascinating things about Nall is the incredible diversity in his work. He’s known internationally for his works across media including mosaics, sculpture, line engravings, watercolors, paintings, graphite portraits, botanical prints, porcelain, glassware, jewelry, sets, costumes, and carpet tapestries. He’s also known for his exquisite framing work. Throughout his career, Nall has exhibited more than 300 one-man shows.

5. His art can be found all over the world, including several galleries in Alabama.

A selection of Nall’s work at Troy University (Nall Art Foundation/Facebook)

Nall’s work can be found at museums, galleries, exhibitions, and public and private places across the world. You can find his mosaics at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, his sculptures in Italy and France, and line engravings at the Boston Museum of Art, as well as in the Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville Museums of Art. If you want to see more of Nall’s work locally, the Nall Hollis Museum at Troy University features a permanent collection of Nall’s work. You can also find his work at Carmichael Hall on the University of Alabama’s campus; at multiple hotels including the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, Ross Bridge Hotel in Birmingham, and Grand Hotel in Point Clear; through the state through the RSA (Retirement Systems of Alabama); and at the NALL Art Foundation in Fairhope.

See more of Nall’s work at artistnall.com