George Segal, the Founder of Pop Art

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Sculptor extraordinaire George Segal made a huge impression on American still life art and the Pop Art Era. Segal was born in New York City, in 1924. His family moved to South Brunswick, New Jersey where Segal was raised on a chicken farm. Living in New Jersey led to Segal attending Rutgers University, where he studied literature, psychology, history, and philosophy. He then received his B.S. degree in art education from New York University in 1949. The 50’s were financially hard for Segal, he was faced with bankruptsy and began teaching in New Jersey. He went on to receive his Honorary Ph.D. in Fine Arts, from Rutgers University in 1970. George Segal began painting abstract images, many of them life sized. However, Segal is best known for his dramatic, still-life sculptures that he began creating after settling down with his wife Helen. Segal and his wife purchased their own farm. The chicken coops on the farm were turned into a string of studios. In 1968 a student from an art class brought Segal some bandages’ used to make casts for broken bones. The piece was molded over his own body pieces, and then put together, by him and his wife, to form a man sitting at a table. The casting was named “Man Sitting at a Table”, which started the new art technique of body casting. Segal began experimenting with objects found the farm (Tuchman). He would use chicken wire, plaster, and burlap to create his sculptures. Most of Segal’s pieces where of ordinary people set in ordinary or social environments. These figures were still and ghostly yet emotionally moving and dynamic. His life-size figures were set in environments such as restaurants, street corners, and buses. Whether the figures were alone or in groups there was a sense of emotional isolation, I feel Segal was intentionally trying to capture. For example, “Chance Meeting” is a piece containing three individuals, crossing paths under a one way street sign. Segal created “Change Meeting” in 1989, and sold it for...
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