George Segal was an integral part of the Rutgers avant-garde, a group of students and professors who worked in the art departments at Rutgers University and its sister institution, Douglass College, in the 1950s and 1960s. A friend to luminaries such as Allan Kaprow, one of whose earliest Happenings occurred on his chicken farm in South Brunswick, Segal embarked in 1961 on the work for which he is best known: figurative sculptures made from white plaster, often paired with everyday objects or placed in environments intended to represent quotidian places such as diners, buses, kitchens, and parking garages. Even when they depict a group of individuals, Segal’s sculptures often convey a sense of isolation and social anomie, thanks in part to the suppression of expression and individuality entailed by his method. In Woman on White Wicker Rocker, for instance, a bronze edition of an original plaster, the figure’s demeanor suggests introspection, melancholia, and apprehension all at once.
Segal was a central figure in the American avant-garde in the 1960s and ’70s, settling in New Jersey where he gathered a group of experimental figures around him on his East Brunswick farm and became an integral figure in the Rutgers University art scene. In 1961 he embarked on the work for which he is best known: figurative sculptures cast in white plaster. Segal often paired these figures with everyday objects and depicted them in quotidian environments such as diners, buses, kitchens, and parking garages. As with Woman on White Wicker Rocker (a bronze casting of a plaster original), the sculptures often convey a sense of isolation, thanks in part to the suppression of expression and individuality entailed by Segal’s method, which required his sitters to remain still for extended periods of time.
Kelly Baum, et. al., New Jersey as non-site, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collections, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2013).
"Acquisitions of the Princeton University Art Museum 2007," in "More than one: photographs in sequence," special issue, Record of the Princeton University Art Museum 67 (2008): p. 96-119.
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).
An Educated Eye: The Princeton University Art Museum Collection (Friday, February 22, 2008 - Sunday, June 15, 2008)