Blue Woman in Black Chair
132.1 cm x 66 cm x 111.7 cm (52 in. x 26 in. x 44 in.)
(The Bronx, New York, 1924 - 2000, New Brunswick, New Jersey)
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Painted plaster and metal
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1983
George Segal’s life-sized plaster casts of friends and acquaintances lead the viewer into uncanny and somewhat unsettling encounters. The subject of Blue Woman in a Black Chair seems oblivious to our presence. Captured in a private moment of reverie, she is unselfconscious—although exposed, even vulnerable, in her nakedness.
Interested in exploring the shared emotional resonance of private moments of contemplation and everyday routine, Segal created sculptural tableaux that present human forms within familiar settings that include pieces of furniture as well as architectural details. The works suggest true-to-life situations that have been frozen in time, an effect that is underscored by his use of monochromatic plaster—usually white or, more rarely, blue or black. Though the works are, in fact, portraits, they are rarely identified as such. Still, the personal connection the artist has to the sitter allows an exquisite degree of nuance and observed detail. Generalizing from these particular details, Segal makes works that aspire to universal understanding.
Segal’s most ambitious public works, created in bronze during the last decades of his life, commemorate historical tragedies, such as the Holocaust and the Kent State shootings. His greatest works offer us quietly moving reflections on mortality and the human condition.