Articulations about suffering and pain without the destructive collateral damage of nihilism. Modern despair in a human way. A taking of Edward Hopper’s figures and putting them within the crowd of Baudelaire’s Paris, marching, crying, weeping, but maintaining a human dignity as the amble through the arcades. Both anonymous and completely developed. George Segal’s work is at odds with everything in pop culture, yet it holds a profound truth in a serious engagement with life, to understand a paltry 1440 minutes a day. We simply are so used to superficial, time sensitive commodities in the capitalist fantasy world that the real becomes the “other” , objectified and somehow to be judged by a higher standard.

---iconic American sculptor George Segal. Segal (1924-2000) became popular during the pop-art movement of the 1960s for his life-size plaster figures. He created the figures with a technique he pioneered using the same plaster bandages that doctors use to set bones. He was acclaimed by his peers throughout his lifetime and received a number of honors, including the International Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture in 1992 and the National Medal of Honor in 1999. ---Read More:

( see link at end) Modern relationships are “reserved,” or at best mechanical, as Simmel suggests.  Segal shows the strangeness of it all — of the modern individual and the modern society in which he lives and works, framing and shaping every aspect of his existence, from the space he inhabits and the clothes he wears to his feelings and thoughts — as no other twentieth century artist does. But he also shows something else: however much they are social objects, his figures remain subjects with an inner life. They look like demoralized machines going through the motions, but they seem oddly introspective — in search of their feelings and thoughts. They brood, however rote their behavior.Read More:

---There is a statue of Abraham and Isaac that sits on the campus of a relatively obscure college in North Carolina. Carved by George Segal, it is not the typical image of Isaac as the willing son, going to his death, but of Isaac bound and kneeled at the feet of his father, with tears streaming down his face as he begs his father for his life. It is a heart-wrenching image, to say the least. It is also a memorial to the students who died in the 1970 Kent State shootings—a memorial so controversial that Kent State itself refused the statue, hence its current location in North Carolina. ---Read More:

So, to find the truth and the personal within what appears to be high impersonality.To make apparent opposites reconcile one another. The spiritual content, the form , the conceptual, the abstract, the social realism, sublimating the political within the shock of the new that only serves as a gatekeeper to the ancient shock of the human. A synthesis of contradictory styles transformed into the expressive; inverting Duchamp concept, ready-made, and taking it on a long voyage, transforming the wayward son into a prodigal adult. An affinity with pop art but shorn of the commercialism and pathologies of the avant-gard towards perversion.


Segal’s sculptural installations are a living expressionistic theater set in an artificially constructed social environment whose abstractness infects the actors. More pointedly, Segal’s Expressionist Constructions are a mystery street theater in which the figures ritualistically perform the tragedy of their lives without realizing it until it is too late to change their lives and themselves. The street is a mysterious theater in Segal’s art — a theater full of intriguing people full of unfathomable mystery, making them more poignantly human and meaningful than they would ever be if we saw them on an actual street. They would then be part of the same anonymous crowd in which we all live our daily lives in mass society, going about the rituals of dailiness without understanding their formative effect on us. They would then be so much passing garbage rather they diamonds in the rough, as they are in Segal’s art, to refer to his remarks about Cinema. They would be nominally rather than profoundly human-incidentally rather than remarkably human — things rather than bodies. Segal deeply humanizes his models by giving them artistic resonance. Literally recast by him, his figures seem like refugees from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. They become a chorus from a Greek tragedy transposed to a modern world. Read More:

---"Depression Bread Line" is one of Segal's more visible public sculptures. The original was commissioned for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. Like his other best-known works, it is figurative -- showing five men waiting in line near a door during the Depression. It measures nine feet by 12 by three, but like his other life-sized figurative works is imbued with an evocative emotional power that renders those dimensions even more impressive.--- Read More:

…As Segal understood it (correctly, in my opinion), the over-all problem of modern art is the reconciliation and integration of abstraction, conceived as a profound spiritual expression conveyed by purely formal means, and realism, which conveys the physical and human facts of the modern social world — the vulgar life-world that abstraction repudiates by way of its formal sublimity, supposedly making it superior to any art with a representational purpose.( ibid.)

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