Visitors to the Princeton University Art Museum
will be greeted by two new faces those of George Segals Circus Acrobats (1981), a recent gift to the Museum from the George and Helen Segal Foundation. The Foundation has been especially generous to Princeton over the years, and Circus Acrobats joins a suite of reliefs and sculptures, including the poignant Woman in a White Wicker Rocker (198485), currently on view in the Museums Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery.
The gift of Circus Acrobats continues and deepens a long-standing relationship between the Segal Foundation and the Princeton University Art Museum. Were delighted to be able to add this sculpture to our collection and to install it in such a prominent location in McCormick Hall. Site and art could not be better suited for one another, says Kelly Baum, Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art.
Installed directly above the Museums entrance, Segals two acrobats swoop gracefully from the ceiling, their hands just inches from clasping, a moment fraught with excitement and anticipation. The sculpture exemplifies the work for which the artist is best-known. Considered one of the most important and influential American artists and sculptors of the twentieth century, Segal (19242000) first emerged on the art scene in the late 1950s, primarily as a painter. However, by the early 1960s he began to achieve recognition for his plaster sculptures and installations depicting scenes from everyday life. Like the Pop artists with whom he is often associated, Segal gravitated towards the quotidian on one hand and the figurative on the other, triggering something of a revolution in an art-world weaned on abstraction. Unlike the Pop artists, though, Segal focused less on celebrities and consumerism and more on domestic life, social issues, and the working class. Many of his works convey a sense of melancholy and quiet contemplation. As early as the late 1950s, Segals farm in New Brunswick, New Jersey, became the nexus around which an exhilarating array of events, performances, and collaborations with New York based artists occurred.