George Segal (artist)
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November 26, 1924|
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||June 9, 2000
New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
|Known for||Sculpture, Pop art|
|Awards||Praemium Imperiale (1997)|
Although Segal started his art career as a painter, his best known works are cast life-size figures and the tableaux the figures inhabited. In place of traditional casting techniques, Segal pioneered the use of plaster bandages (plaster-impregnated gauze strips designed for making orthopedic casts) as a sculptural medium. In this process, he first wrapped a model with bandages in sections, then removed the hardened forms and put them back together with more plaster to form a hollow shell. These forms were not used as molds; the shell itself became the final sculpture, including the rough texture of the bandages. Initially, Segal kept the sculptures stark white, but a few years later he began painting them, usually in bright monochrome colors. Eventually he started having the final forms cast in bronze, sometimes patinated white to resemble the original plaster.
Segal's figures have minimal color and detail, which give them a ghostly, melancholic appearance. In larger works, one or more figures are placed in anonymous, typically urban environments such as a street corner, bus, or diner. In contrast to the figures, the environments were built using found objects.
Segal was born in New York; his Jewish parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. His parents ran a butcher shop in the Bronx, then moved to a poultry farm in New Jersey where Segal grew up. He attended Stuyvesant High School, as well as the Pratt Institute, the Cooper Union, and New York University, from which he graduated in 1949 with a teaching degree. In 1946, he married Helen Segal and they bought another chicken farm in South Brunswick, New Jersey, where he lived for the rest of his life.
He only ran the chicken farm for a few years, but he used the space to hold annual picnics for his friends from the New York art world. His location in central New Jersey also led to friendships with professors from the Rutgers University art department. Segal introduced several Rutgers professors to John Cage, and took part in Cage's legendary experimental composition classes. Allan Kaprow coined the term happening to describe the art performances that took place on Segal's farm in the Spring of 1957. Events for Yam Festival also took place there. His widow, Helen Segal, keeps his memory and works alive through the George and Helen Segal Foundation.
- The Truck (1966)
- The Laundromat (1966–67)
- The Costume Party (1965–72) – housed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- Hot Dog Stand (1978)
- Abraham and Isaac (1978–79) – commissioned in memory of the 1970 Kent State shootings; housed at Princeton University's Modern Sculpture Garden
- Gay Liberation (1980) – commissioned in memory of the 1969 Stonewall riots; the first piece of public art dedicated to LGBT rights; two castings, one now housed at the Gay Liberation Monument, Christopher Street Park, Manhattan; the other at Stanford University's Main Quad
- The Commuters (1982) – installed in the New York City Port Authority Bus Terminal
- Japanese Couple against a Brick Wall (1982) – Honolulu Museum of Art
- Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor (1984) in San Francisco
- Chance Meeting (1991) – installed on campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa
- Street Crossing (1992) – installed in the College Avenue Promenade at Montclair State University
- The George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University opened in spring 2006.
- His collected papers are housed in the Princeton University Library.
Honors and awards
- (1992) Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, International Sculpture Center, Hamilton, New Jersey, United States.
- George Segal (1979). Directed by Michael Blackwood. Documentary about Segal, who discusses and is shown creating his bronze sculpture Abraham and Isaac, which was originally intended as a memorial for the Kent State shootings of 1970.
- George Segal: American Still Life (2001). Directed by Amber Edwards. Television documentary about his life and work.
- "George Segal: Biography". The George and Helen Segal Foundation. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- [dead link] Turner, Elisa (December 20, 1998). "Segal Exhibit Evokes Quiet Dignity of Humdrum Lives". Miami Herald. Retrieved July 31, 2007. "That compassion is also evident in the work ethic and personality of this artist, who's called himself a Depression baby and who speaks fondly of South Brunswick, N.J., where he's lived since the 1940s, as a working man's town."
- [dead link] "Guggenheim Acquires Sculptural Work by George Segal". Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- "Abraham and Isaac: In Memory of May 4, 1970, Kent State University, 1978–79". Campus Art Princeton. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- [dead link] "George Segal's Gay Liberation". GLBTQ Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- "Sculptor George Segal's Model Commuters Are a Study in Terminal Patience". People. June 7, 1982. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- Honolulu Museum of Art, wall label, Japanese Couple against a Brick Wall by George Segal, 1982, plaster, wood, paint and faux brick, accession January 28, 2013.
- Staff (December 2, 2010). "George Segal Sculptures Walk to New Location at Montclair State". Montclair State University. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
- "George Segal Papers". Firestone Library, Princeton University. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- International Sculpture Center website. 'Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award' webpage. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
- "George Segal: American Still Life". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- Busch, Julia M. (1974). A Decade of Sculpture: The New Media in the 1960s. The Art Alliance Press: Philadelphia; Associated University Presses: London. ISBN 0-87982-007-1.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Segal (artist).|
- George and Helen Segal Foundation
- The George Segal Papers at Princeton University
- The Commuters, Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City Retrieved April 21, 2011
- “Abraham and Isaac”, Princeton University Retrieved April 21, 2011
- George Segal "Portraits in Plaster". The Baltimore Museum of Art: Baltimore, Maryland, 1967 Retrieved June 26, 2012