Plaster and mixed media
Overall: 289.5 x 243.8 x 91.4 cm (114 x 96 x 36 in.)
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1974.22
Art © The George and Helen Segal Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
George Segal began his career as a figurative painter, but in the 1960s his interest turned toward "the theater of the street," and he began to create three-dimensional "environments." Built like stage sets that incorporated real objects as props—the truck in The Red Light was Segal's own—the settings usually evoke an urban environment. Segal felt that "a minute of existence is miraculous and extraordinary." His work freezes those minutes, allowing them to be studied in depth. To achieve this effect in The Red Light, Segal worked with a live model, soaking cloth in a durable white industrial plaster to cast the figure in sections. He then cut the cast into sections, reassembled the pieces, and adjusted the pose. The figure's all-white surface and lack of specific facial features convey a sadly anonymous presence, offering a metaphor for the reality of city life.
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