George Segal (1924-2000)

The Movie Poster

George Segal (1924-2000)
The Movie Poster
signed, titled and dated 'George Segal "Homage to Marylin" 1967' (on the reverse of the panel)
plaster figure and photograph mounted on wood laid down on panel, in two parts
figure: 73 x 30 x 15 in. (185.4 x 76.2 x 38.1 cm.) panel: 78½ x 24 7/8 in. (199.3 x 63.2 cm.)
Executed in 1967.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
John and Kimiko Powers, Aspen, 1967
Sonnabend Gallery, New York
Mascetti Collection, Ticino
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 17 May 2000, lot 51
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
J. van der Marck, George Segal, New York, 1979, p. 140, pl. 77 (illustrated).
S. Hunter and D. Hawthorne, George Segal, New York, 1984, no. 171 (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Homage to Marilyn Monroe, December 1967, no. 41 (illustrated).
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, George Segal: 12 Human Situations, April-May 1968, no. 62 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1967, George Segal's The Movie Poster shows a man transfixed by the pouting image of that ultimate screen goddess, Marilyn Monroe. Segal captures this tiny, ephemeral moment in such a way that the figures appear to form some short urban narrative. This shard of city life, like some Hopper painting that has sprung into three dimensions, is filled with psychological drama and voyeurism.

In his three-dimensional works from the 1960s, Segal began to use medical plasters from Johnson and Johnson, initially brought to him by one of his students. He dipped these in plaster, capturing the form and posture of his subjects, whom he often chose with great care. In The Movie Poster, the subject was his friend George Kuehn; Segal was inspired to create this work by an exhibition invitation at the Sidney Janis Gallery on the theme "Homage to Marilyn Monroe." Rather than creating an homage himself, as Andy Warhol had done several years earlier, Segal has represented the homage. It was because this was his driving theme that Segal was often associated with Pop Art; here, though, that link is made all the more explicit by the image of that ultimate Pop idol, Marilyn Monroe. While she had died several years earlier, her features had gained a strange apotheosis through the works of a number of artists, most famously Warhol.

While Segal's works such as The Movie Poster explore man's place within the urban environment and, in this case, in the media age, they also allow the artist a more formal investigation of the plastic end of space. This is accentuated in The Movie Poster by the fact that, because of the interaction between man and poster, the space between them is itself such an integral part of the work, creating an electric energy both through the personal gaze and through the juxtaposition of the elements, bringing the scene to life.

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