George Segal

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GEORGE SEGAL

I met George Segal in 1984, and from the outset I had the opportunity to make photographs of him. I made a portrait of Segal shortly after our first meeting, and during our third meeting I photographed Segal at work. While shooting the first rolls of film of Segal in his studio, it was obvious that those photographs were not what I envisioned. The defining moment came while he was working on a sculpture, and without thinking, I blurted out, “I think I can do that!” George said, “Really, you think you can do this?” He paused for a moment and said, “Put that camera down.” He carefully explained the procedure and we began to work together. We almost finished the sculpture, and my one-hour visit turned out to be over six hours long. While we were working I found perfect opportunities to make photographs. I would wipe my hands of plaster and pick up my Leica, make a few photographs, and get back to work. Now the photographs felt right. The photographic sessions that followed gradually developed into a more personal photographic project.

As our relationship evolved, I began to assist in casting models and finishing the final sculptures. We worked on one piece after another and talked about art – his art and philosophy, about what was on view in museums and galleries, and about the art world. We searched for materials for the sculpture, went to exhibitions and openings, photographed in New York City and New Jersey, and sat talking in the studio with classical music playing softly in the background. My camera was always close by.

The intellectual considerations of art and the process of creation fascinate me. It was thrilling for me to be with George Segal in his studio to watch the birth of an idea and during the evolution of works of art that are unmistakably powerful and timeless. I want these photographs to take the viewer back to the creative moments – the conception of the works. The images show the art in the environment in which it was created – at the moment it was created. They show the creative space, how the studio looked, and the stages of progress of many works. The photographs are not orchestrated or commissioned works; they are personal and private vignettes of a friendship that lasted about sixteen years. Looking at them, I hope the viewer will get closer to the mind of the artist, and closer to being in the presence of George Segal. For me, the photographs are a record of a personal journey, an adventure in art and creativity – a document of a life and a friendship.

Donald Lokuta