George Segal was born to Jewish immigrant parents who had a butcher shop in the Bronx, New York. He was studying art while making a living as a schoolteacher and a chicken farmer. Around 1960, Segal began to exhibit as part of a group of artists closely identified with Pop Art, including Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. He developed an unusual method for sculpting in plaster, covering family and friends in medical gauze bandages before assembling all the pieces into a final cast. He placed the resulting sculptures into everyday situations, such as drinking coffee, reading a book, or traveling on the bus. The artist’s iconic white sculptures are found in museums around the world.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park organized exhibitions of George Segal’s work in 2004 and, most recently, in 2020. In 2017, a major gift we received from the George and Helen Segal Foundation and the Segals’ daughter, Rena Segal, included the sculpture Circus Acrobats. Within the Welcome Center, Circus Acrobats is shown for the first time. Fittingly, the sculpture is suspended from the ceiling high above, allowing the viewer to imagine two acrobats in a circus.
George Segal. Circus Acrobats, 1988. Bronze, 72 x 144 x 20 inches (variable). Gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation, Inc. Circus Acrobats, 1988 © The George and Helen Segal Foundation/Artist Rights Society (ARS).