George Segal in Black and White: Drawings and Sculptures
George Segal in Black and White: Photographs by Donald Lokuta
September 6 – December 10, 2016
The Stedman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of the work of the renown American sculptor George Segal, who earned an MFA from Rutgers University in 1963, and who was conferred an honorary doctorate in 1970. A selection of (mostly) black and white drawings and sculptures will be accompanied by “George Segal in Black and White: Photographs by Donald Lokuta,” an exhibition organized by the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers.
George Segal (1924-2000) was one of America’s most respected and popular artists. He was best known for his life-size plaster sculptures of ordinary people doing ordinary things, which he created by covering friends and relatives with plaster-soaked surgical bandages. He placed these figures in realistic environments, such as a subway car or bus seat. This juxtaposition of a commonplace setting with Segal’s ghostly, lifelike figures creates deeply unsettling and moving moments.
After he became established as an artist, Segal was commissioned to make sculptures that commemorated important moments in history, such as the Kent State shootings, the Holocaust, and the Great Depression. He depicted events literally or used metaphor to convey his intentions. Segal contributed significant works to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Monument in Washington DC, inaugurated in 1997; this exhibition includes the sculpture Fireside Chat, a concerned citizen listening to FDR’s nationwide address.
The photographer Donald Lokuta (b. 1946) met the sculptor George Segal in 1984, when a friend who had modeled for Segal invited him to come to the studio on the family farm in South Brunswick NJ to see the finished sculpture. At that first meeting, which included a studio tour, Lokuta arranged to come back to shoot a professional portrait. This marked the beginning of the project that would engage him for more than sixteen years and comprise nearly fifteen thousand negatives.
Not simply a photographer in the studio, Lokuta worked closely with the sculptor, helping to cast models and serving as a model himself. He paused often to take photographs of the artist, the works in process, and the labyrinthine space of the studio intending to make a fully three-dimensional portrait of the artist and his work. In the years that Lokuta photographed Segal, the sculptor produced the first bronze casts of his figural groups; experimented with relief sculpture, still life, and photography; and returned to drawing. Providing insights into Segal’s life and work, these photographs by Lokuta embody a long-term collaborative project that knitted friendship and photography together. This selection of photographs was curated by Donna Gustafson, the Zimmerli’s Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator and her undergraduate museum studies class.