Copper in the Arts

February 2009

George Segal on View at the Nasher Sculpture Center

George Sega Sculptures

Rush Hour, 1983

Courtesy of Nasher Sculpture Center

The Nasher Sculpture Center will mount an exhibition of sculpture by the late American artist George Segal from through April 5 in the museum's main galleries. The exhibition will present this sculptor's unique investigations of the human condition in the urban environment in the second half of the 20th century. Featuring 15 of Segal's single- and multi-figure installations from the early 1960s to the end of his career in the 1990s, George Segal: Street Scenes is the first exhibition to offer a focused exploration of the themes of urban life inherent in Segal's sculpture.

George Segal (1924-2000) is considered one of the most important and influential American artists of the twentieth century. Although he initially focused his efforts on painting, his career took a turn in the early 1960s when he began using plaster to create life-size figures that he presented together with elements from everyday environments, such as chairs, benches, window frames, and other building fragments. Many of the works in George Segal: Street Scenes portray men and women, young and old, sitting, walking, and talking. In addition, the works address commonplace aspects of the city from cinema marquees to parking garages, diners, and buses.

Starting in the 1970s and continuing through the 1990s, Segal's work explored the reality of urban decay throughout the twentieth century, with many works focusing specifically on Manhattan's East Village. Individuals in his works were shown lying on the ground or over subway grates, sitting on stoops, and crossing in front of walls covered with punk graffiti. The plaster or bronze figures are contemplative, sometimes forlorn, and always realistic.

With subjects and settings that addressed commonplace situations, human values, and the burdens of economic hardship, these signature works caught the attention of the public and were broadly acclaimed by art critics, curators, art historians, and other artists. Among the many honors Segal received during his lifetime were the International Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture (1992) and the National Medal of Arts (1999).

Organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Madison, WI, the exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated hardbound catalogue with essays by Martin Friedman, Director Emeritus of the Walker Art Center, and Jane Simon, MMoCA Curator. Thirteen photographs by Segal's friend and assistant, Donald Lokuta, will accompany the show and provide insight into his working process.

After visiting the Nasher Sculpture Center, George Segal: Street Scenes will travel to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (May 9-August 2, 2009), and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida (September 8-December 6, 2009). The exhibition premiered at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Resources:

Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora St., Dallas, TX, (214) 242-5100

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