Essay about George seagull and alienation

Submitted By 904abrown
Words: 1128
Pages: 5

By human nature we like to rebel against our higher power, we like to question authority and the ordinary. The art world is no different. Modernism was a time for artists to create pieces that were no longer just renditions of biblical stories but these pieces can actually stand for something. Modernistic artists had a curiosity for the idea of alienation, maybe because they felt that they were alienated in the time era. George Segal used life-size figure drawings to show his feelings of alienation. Segal’s work “brought a new, often eerie realism to postwar sculpture and made him one of the most quietly influential artists of his time” (Smith). For his art pieces, he used actual live people that he would cover in plaster and let completely dry before he removed piece by piece. Then very carefully reconstruct the figures. Unlike most pop artist like Andy Warhol, Segal used ordinary people to capture alienation in his work.
In the piece titled "The Holocaust", Segal captured the mood of alienation in many different ways. The piece features full body casts of prisoners in a concentration camp behind a section of barbed wire attached to two wooden posts. The barbed wire gives the art a dark feel. It evokes emotions of pain, imprisonment, and isolation. There is a cast of a man holding the fence with a blank stare. This gives the viewer the feeling that the man wants to be free and is being held prisoner against his will. The way the fence and the man is put placed together blatantly shows alienation along with other emotions that emerge when thinking about the holocaust. The way Segal displays it captured these emotions perfectly. To make the art even more meaningful, there is mound of dead bodies piled on top of each other behind the man standing. This shows that the man standing against the fence alienated because there is a good distance from where the pile of human remains lay and where he is. He is the only one alive in the piece
Segal’s piece simply called “The Diner” shows alienation with an element of fear and tension. Two plastered figures are presented in what appears to be an upscale clean diner made from recycled material. Segal stated “Walking into a diner after midnight when you’re the only customer, there’s both fatigue and electricity. The waitress behind the counter is always sizing you up, wondering, ‘Is this guy going to rob me or rape me?’ And the customer is wondering, ‘Am I going to be dangerous or sexually attractive?’ There is a careful avoidance of eye contact. Two people alone in a diner after midnight—you know, there’s that electric danger. It’s always present (The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.)” This simple depiction presents a feeling of fear and isolation that we still deal with today. Of all places why is a diner so much to fear or feel isolated in? It’s supposed to be a jovial place where one can enjoy their meal or coffee & pie, deprived of all anxiety and fear. But that’s not the case. We live in a society, especially in America, where fear and isolation takes hold almost every day. And I believe Segal showed that in this intimate piece.
In 1979, George Segal created a piece called “Gay Liberation and Temporality”. This brilliant piece captures the historical event of the Gay movement. The pieces display two homosexual men standing and holding a conversation, and two lesbian sitting on a bench. The figures are placed in the same place where riots on Christopher Park in NYC began. “The figures are not idealized nor placed on a pedestal but physically inhabit the viewer’s space and consequently elicit empathy” (Thompson). This piece is not like his other work, it doesn’t use props. The “Gay Liberation and Temporality” capture alienation of the gay community and how they were out casted from everyone else.
George Segal’s Depression Bread Line, made in 1991, is a significant piece of artwork for many reasons. It is a timeless sculpture that reminds the young and old of an unforgettable past.