Untitled (Cast of a Face with Bust)
Art © The George and Helen Segal Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY
George Segal is best known for his monochromatic plaster figures set in tableaux suggesting mundane isolation and alienation from the modern world. Segal has long been associated with the Pop Art movement, although this subdued palate, emphasis on the figure, and pervading sense of modern anxiety suggest a direct link with the work of urban realists, such as Edward Hopper.
The sculptor’s pioneering technique required reproducing live models by encasing separate sections of their bodies in plaster-coated cloth designed to make orthopedic casts. He assembled these shells into complete figures, preserving the rough texture of the bandages. Later in his career, Segal would sometimes have the final forms cast in bronze, often with a white finish to resemble the original plaster. Segal’s rough surfaces provided vigorous evidence of his focus on process. As early as 1970, taking these ideas one step further, he also produced series of individual fragments exhibited on their own. In works such as this, the fragile, exposed edges of the cast and the glimpses of its hollow interior add to the mood of alienation and anxiety that pervades most of his art.