George Segal (American, 1924–2000) is best known for his naturalistic plaster sculptures and environments. In his work, he often reflects on ordinary situations in which the individual is shown in a state of isolation amidst an anonymous society. The use of plaster and the life-sized scale of Segal’s sculptures produce an intense, realistic effect in his work; at the same time, the color of the all-white plaster neutralizes and alienates his human subjects from their everyday motifs, creating scenes with a more cinematic character. Segal was born in New York, and his interest in socio-political and psychological themes was well developed in his early paintings and drawings, which he made directly after his studies at Cooper Union and Rutgers University in the 1940s. In 1958 he began to experiment with sculpture, and a solo show at the Green Gallery in 1960 featured his first plaster figures. From 1961 on, he applied plaster bandages directly to the human form in his works. A turning point in his career was the discovery of a new sculptural technique, in which he created full environments for his body casts by adding everyday objects such as a chair, a window frame, or a table to his work. Segal became known as part of the Pop Art movement, but maintained a distinctive style, incorporating relationships to personal experience and human values in his work. Segal, who took part at documenta IV and VI in Kassel, Germany, is widely exhibited in the United States and Europe. In the early 1980s, he continued to create still lifes, and in his last years he worked with black-and-white photographs of the streets of New York and New Jersey. He actively sculpted his famous life-sized environments until his death in 2000.

Timeline

1924
Born in New York
1940–1949
Attended Cooper Union and Pratt Institute
1949
B.A. in Arts Education, New York University
1957
Included in “Artists of the New York School: Second Generation” an exhibit at the Jewish Museum
1961
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. This work titled "Man Sitting at a Table" marked the discovery of a new sculptural technique and a turning point in the artist’s career.
1963
Master in Fine Arts, Rutgers University, NJ
1970
Honorary Ph.D. in Fine Arts, Rutgers University, NJ
1984
Doctor of Humane Letters, Kean College, NJ
1985
Visual Arts Award – the Bronx Museum of the Arts
1986
The Mayer Sultzberger Award–The Jewish Museum, New York
1986
Israel Cultural Award – State of Israel Bonds, New York
1986
Israel Achievement Award, World Zionist Organization/American Zionist Organization, New York
1987
Hall of Fame/Rutgers Achievement Award, New Jersey
1987
The Governor’s Walt Whitman Creative Arts Award, New Jersey
1988
Pratt Alumni Achievement Award, Brooklyn
1988
National Arts Club Award, New York
1991
Distinguished Alumnus award, NYU, New York
1991
Order of Andres Bello, First Class, Republic of Venuzuela
1992
Visual Arts Award, NJ Center for Visual Arts
1992
International Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture, Washington DC
1992
Honorary Ph.D. in Fine Arts, State University of New York at Purchase
1994
Honorary Ph.D. Massachusetts College of Fine Arts, Boston MA
1997
Praemium Imperiale Award, Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, Tokyo, Japan
1998
Honorary Ph.D. Ramapo College
1999
National Medal of Honor, Washington, DC
2000
Federal Design Achievement Award, Washington, DC
2000
Died on June 9

Exhibitions

2013
Blue Jean Series - Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, OH
The Pop Object: The Still Life Tradition in Pop Art - Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York City, NY
2012
William Scott at Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space, New York - Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland, CA
Modern and Contemporary Paintings - Spanierman Modern, New York City, NY
Pop Goes The Humor - Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA Beuys Warhol Polke & Co - 40 Jahre Kunsthalle Tübingen - Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tübingen
2011
George Segal - Galerie Stefan Röpke, Cologne
An Autobiography of Our Collection - Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
September 11 - MoMA PS1, New York City, NY
Hyper Real – Kunst und Amerika um 1970 - Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen
Georg Baselitz, Georg Segal - anders galerie im stilwerk, Dusseldorf
2010
George Segal - Galerie Thomas Modern, Munich
George Segal - L&M Arts, New York, New York City, NY
2009
George Segal - Galerie Thomas Modern, Munich
George Segal: Street Scenes - Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
Gallery Selections - Spanierman Modern, New York City, NY
2008
George Segal: Street Scenes, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art – Traveling Exhibit
Montclair State University, George Segal: Modern Humanist Exhibition (solo)
2000
George Segal: Nightscapes, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
The American Century:: Art & Culture 1900-2000, part II, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1998
George Segal, A Retrospective: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings -- The Jewish Museum, New York, NY (solo)
Modern Masters: The Last Decade at Janis, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY
George Segal Retrospective, Jewish Museum (solo)
George Segal: Large Scale Pastels, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1997
Modern and Contemporary Masters: Paintings Sculpture Works on Paper, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY
George Segal: Sculpture and Works on Paper, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
A Century of Sculpture: The Nasher Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1958
Green Gallery (solo)
1957
Artists of the New York School: Second Generation, Jewish Museum, NY
1956
First Solo Exhibition, Hansa Gallery, NY

Literature

2008
George Segal: Street Scenes; Edited by Paul Cooper, text by Stephen Fleischman, Jane Simon, Martin Friedman; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
2004
Essay by Joan Pachner and introduction by Carroll Janis, George Segal: Bronze, Mitchell-Innes & Nash
1989
Hunter, Sam. GEORGE SEGAL. Pop art sculpture. Barcelona, Poligrafa
1988
Hunter, Sam and Don Hawthorne. GEORGE SEGAL. Major monograph on Segal's work. New York and London, Arthur A. Bartley
1978
Beal, Graham W.J. and Friedman, Martin. George Segal: Sculpture. Walker Art Center: Minneapolis
1971
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. New Sculpture by GEORGE SEGAL (exhibition catalogue)