Man Leaning Against a Wall of Doors
Segal is best known for his monochromatic plaster figures set in tableaux suggesting mundane isolation, even alienation, from the modern world. He 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 usually juxtaposed his finished figures with environmental backgrounds, most often composed of found objects. The Museum has traditionally presented Man Leaning Against a Wall of Doors against a flat surface, but a closer look at the signage on the back suggests that Segal’s original intent may have been to show the work in the round. The complex layering of the posters across doors from different sources make it clear that the artist composed the collage himself.