Barbara Krakow Gallery is pleased to announce its first exhibition organized in conjunction with the George and Helen Segal Foundation.
The works in the exhibition, mostly from the 1970’s, are all cast plaster. Most are unique, some are editioned. Most are what Segal called, “Fragments”. With an equal number of solitary figures and paired figures, the exhibition hopes to clearly present the emotional and formal effectiveness of Segal’s iconic and signature technique of casting with unpainted plaster infused cloth strips.
In 1972, Segal described the importance of the generic/specific balance in casting with plaster by saying, If you put plaster on someone, you get an accurate record of bones and bone structure. They are portraits; yet, I don’t do details by which we ordinarily recognize people. They’re portraits in the same way that you recognize a friend walking down the street from a block away. Plenty of information is in the work, yet enough is held back, so as to provide the viewer the opportunity to use their own experiences to identify with the work.
George Segal was born in New York on November 26, 1924, to a Jewish couple who emigrated from Eastern Europe. His parents first settled in the Bronx where they ran a butcher shop and later moved to a New Jersey poultry farm.
In 1957, he was included in Artists of the New York School: Second Generation, an exhibit at the Jewish Museum. For the next three years he showed annually at the Hansa. The path from painting to sculpture and the specific form of the sculpture is embodied in a series of events from the late 1950s. In 1956, Segal was introduced to the Hansa Gallery and its artistic influence. The following year, Allan Kaprow chose the Segal farm as the scene of his first Happening live art with an environmental sensibility. In 1958 Segal began to experiment in sculpture and had a one-man show at the Green Gallery in 1960, featuring several plaster figures.
In 1961, while teaching an adult education class in New Brunswick, a student brought to Georges class a box of dry plaster bandages. Segal took them home and experimented with applying them directly to his body. With the help of his wife, Helen, Segal was able to make parts of a body cast and assemble them into a complete seated figure. Segal provided an environment for his body cast by adding a chair, a window frame and a table. Man Sitting at a Table marked the discovery of a new sculptural technique and a turning point in the artists career.
From 1965 to 1999, perfected the technique and created real life tableaux, using many close friends and family members as models. He became known, along with Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Andy Warhol and others as part of the “Pop Art” movement. Segal’s distinctive style separated his work from “Pop Art” by staying closely related to personal experience and human values. He once said that because he was from the proletariat, he wanted to deal directly with the places around and familiar to himself, rather than with “elegant” topics.
The last years of his life were filled with new creation and expression. His black and white photographs of the streets of New York & New Jersey and of people in his life were used to create new tableaux for his sculpture and to create close up drawings of human expression. He remained active, engaged and productive until his death on June 9, 2000. Throughout his life, Segal had been recognized for his artistic work and his humanistic passion.