Modern Artists Cafe
The life of a diverse artist
Born in 1924 in New York, George Segal lived the life on an exceptionally diverse artist. Segal's works include
After college, Segal married Helen Steinberg, settled on a chicken farm and began teaching art. After meeting Allen Kaprow in 1953, Segal's interest in creating art was rekindled and Segal began to refocus on absract painting. (George Segal: A Retrospective) His first one-man show took place at the Hansa Gallery in New York and featured abstract painting, drawings and pastels. (Goldone) Segal's passion for art continued to grow and in 1958 Segal turned his chicken coops into a series of studios, it was there that his first "happening" was arranged by Allen Kaprow. Soon, after Segal began experimenting in life-size sculpting, which would become his trademark in the years to come.
Segal first began focusing on sculpture in 1958, using the matarials surrounding him:
Creating a plaster hand in the style of George Segal
In the mid-1970's Segal altered his sculpting technique. He began pouring the plaster into casts, using them as molds in order to obtain greater detail. Segal would then paint the sculpture a single, bright hue. In 1976, Segal created his first bronze sculpture for a public area. One of the best examples of Segal's bronze sculptures is the Depression Bread Line , created for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. (George Segal, a Retrospective)
Segal sculpts realityGeorge Segal is considered to be one of the founder of the 1960's art movement known as Pop Art, due to his interest in the everyday world and his highly inventive techniques. Segal was once quotes, in a telephone interview for The Christian Science Monitor , as saying:
"My teachers were abstract painters. But I was overwhelmed by the necessity of reality-by the real world."
It was this philosophy that separated Segal from his fellow Pop artists, Segal surpassed their focus on wit and sophisticated attachment, in favor of displaying the human condition-its solitude and fragility. (George Segal, a Retrospective) Segal placed his sculptures in modern, everyday settings and situations and gave them an "eerily feeling of isolation". (George Segal, a Retrospective) It is this look that gives his figures a humane quality that can be universily identified with. Segal is quoted as saying in The Christian Science Monitor
"I note [my subjects] gestures. I depend on my language [plaster] to communicate anguish. I really am interested in provoking a state of compassion."
Segal is also inspired by film and literature
George Segal did not only draw his inspiration from everyday life, but also from:
For example, Segal created a series of sculptures throughout his career based on biblical works. These sculptures contained important biblical figures from the Old Testament, dressed in modern-day clothing and set in a realistic environment. One of these works, In Memory of May 4, 1970:Kent State-Abraham and Isaac, was created in response to the shooting of anti-war demonstrators by the National Guard, on the Kent State campus during the Vietnam War. Segal used the idea of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to complete God's will, to represent the National Guard's willingness to sacrifice American people to make a point. The sculpture shows Isaac on his knees in front of Abraham, seemingly begging for his life. This work was considered to be politically controversial and rejected by its comissioner Kent State for being "unpatriotic". (Berman)
"All I want to do I provoke thought and leave from for their [the viewer's] response."
(Mason, The Christian Science Monitor)
George Segal's variety of works can be found in many galleries, museums and private collections throughout the world.
Rich East High School
Park Forest, IL 60466
This page was created by J.M.2. Last revised March 14, 2001.
Return to Index