George Segal

(The Bronx, New York, 1924 - 2000, South Brunswick, New Jersey)

North America, American

Best known for his plaster cast sculptures, George Segal drew inspiration from everyday lives lived in ordinary spaces. The artist attended Cooper Union for one year, then set his studies aside temporarily to work on his parent’s New Jersey poultry farm, which was shorthanded dur-ing World War II. Segal earned a BA in art education from New York University in 1949 and an MFA from Rutgers University in 1963. The artist purchased his own farm in South Brunswick, New Jersey, which housed his studio. New York artists frequented the farm; Allan Kaprow staged his first Happening there in 1957. In the 1950s, Segal painted figurative work in an ex-pressionist style. He began experimenting with sculpture in 1958, exhibiting plaster works at a solo show at the Green Gallery in 1960. In 1961 a student in an adult education class whose spouse worked at Johnson & Johnson gave Segal newly developed plaster bandages. The artist cast his own body parts and assembled the pieces into a figure which he placed amongst a chair, table and window frame. This work, "Man Sitting at a Table," proved to be a turning point in the Segal’s career; he went on to make casts of family and friends, ghostly white figures amidst environments of found objects. Critics categorized Segal’s work as part of the Pop art move-ment because he draw his imagery from the real world. Segal’s work can be found in the collection of many institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 1999, President Clinton awarded Segal a National Medal of the Arts.


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