George Warren Rickey (June 6, 1907 – July 17, 2002) was an
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
kinetic sculptor.

Early life and education

Rickey was born on June 6, 1907, in
South Bend, Indiana South Bend is a city in, and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary and ...
. When Rickey was still a child, his father, an executive with
Singer Sewing Machine Company Singer Corporation is an American manufacturer of consumer sewing machines, first established as I. M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac Singer, Isaac M. Singer with New York lawyer Edward Cabot Clark, Edward C. Clark. Best known for its sewing mach ...
, moved the family to
Glasgow Glasgow, (, also , ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) with an estimated city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Socia ...

, Scotland, in 1913. They lived near the river Clyde, and George learned to sail around the outer islands on the family's sailboat. Rickey was educated at
Glenalmond College Glenalmond College is a co-educational independent boarding school in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, for children aged between 12 and 18 years. It is situated on the River Almond, Perth and Kinross, River Almond near the village of Methven, Perth ...
and received a degree in History from
Balliol College, Oxford Balliol College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. One of University of Oxford, Oxford's oldest colleges, it was founded around 1263 by John I de Balliol, a rich landowner from Barnard Castle in County ...
, with frequent visits to the Ruskin School of Drawing. He spent a short time traveling Europe and, against the advice of his father, studied art in Paris at Académie L'Hote and Académie Moderne. He then returned to the United States and began teaching at the
Groton School Groton School is a selective private Episcopal college preparatory boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts Groton is a town in northwestern Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, within the Gre ...
, where among his many students was future National Security Advisor
McGeorge Bundy McGeorge "Mac" Bundy (March 30, 1919 – September 16, 1996) was an American academic who served as United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 through 1966. He was president of the Ford ...

McGeorge Bundy
. After leaving Groton, Rickey worked at various schools throughout the country as part of the Carnegie Corporation Visiting Artists/Artists in Residence program (partially funded by the
Works Progress Administration The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the constructio ...
). His focus was primarily on painting. While taking part in these programs, he painted portraits, taught classes, and created a set of murals at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. He maintained an art studio in New York from 1934 to 1942, when he was drafted. Rickey's interest in things mechanical re-awakened during his wartime work in aircraft and gunnery systems research and maintenance. Following his discharge, he studied art at the
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private research university in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estima ...
Institute of Fine Arts The Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) of New York University is dedicated to graduate teaching and advanced research in the history of art, archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis ...
and later at the Chicago Institute of Design, funded by the G.I. Bill. He taught art at variety of colleges, including
Muhlenberg College Muhlenberg College is a private liberal arts college A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent par ...

Muhlenberg College
. While at Muhlenberg, he was commissioned by J. I. Rodale to illustrate an edition of Anton Chekhov's ''The Beggar and Other Tales''. Rickey later moved on to Indiana University South Bend. There, he encountered and was inspired by the work of David Smith (sculptor), David Smith.

Kinetic sculpture

Rickey turned from painting to creating kinetic sculpture. Rickey combined his love of engineering and mechanics by designing sculptures whose metal parts moved in response to the slightest air currents. His first sculpture was shown in New York in 1951 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art group show ''American Sculpture 1951''. The Museum of Modern Art, in New York purchased his ''Two Lines Temporal I'', after Alfred Barr, MOMA's then Director, had seen it at the exhibition ''Documenta III'' in Kassel, Germany. Rickey's sculptures can now be seen in major museums in the US and in most European capitals, Japan, and New Zealand. His work is often compared to the mobiles of Alexander Calder, but while Calder used organic, playful forms, Rickey's European lineage is more closely related to the Constructivism (art), Constructivist principles of geometric engineering. In 1967, he wrote ''Constructivism – origins and evolution'', published by George Braziller, Inc., New York. In works such as ''Two Open Triangles Up Gyratory'', Rickey's two wind driven elements (engineered to withstand winds of ) provide an endless series of combined, almost dance like, shapes and movements. Rickey mastered not only ordered predictable movements, but also mastered methods of controlling both the speed and tempo of similar objects to respond more randomly, such as in his work ''Four Open Rectangles Diagonal Jointed Gyratory V''. Much of his work was created in his studio in East Chatham, New York, where he moved after taking a position as a professor of art (sculpture) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. His kinetic sculpture titled ''Two Rectangles, Vertical Gyratory Up, Variation III'' was a central element of the Rensselaer campus from 1972. It is now located in Geneva, Switzerland, at the headquarters of UBS. This sculpture was known as the Crinatoid when it was located on the Rensselaer campus on long term loan. It was removed after Rickey and Rensselaer could not agree on a purchase price. Rickey also lived and worked in Berlin for many years, following the ''Documenta III'' art show. His studio time was spent constructing sculpture and preparing for exhibitions in Europe. In Rickey's words the city was like a "cocoon" in the middle of communist East Germany, with a lively and advanced social and cultural life which he partook in fully. During this time he received numerous honorary degree, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. In 1979 he had a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Rickey's sculptures are on permanent exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Empire State Plaza#Art collection, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection in Albany, New York, the San Diego Museum of Art, The Delaware Art Museum, The Indiana University Art Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and at the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, and many other institutions. In 1985, George Rickey had a major retrospective in South Bend, Indiana, the place of his birth. His sculptures were installed outside (and inside) of the South Bend Art Center, and also at the Snite Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Rickey gave a presentation of his work at the Snite. One of the stories he told concerned how, as a result of a World War II-era, government-administered aptitude test, he was assigned to design machine gun turrets for bombers. It was in this job that he became familiar with the high-quality ball bearings, balancing weights, riveted sheet metal, lightweight aircraft construction techniques, and modern hardware (and the vendors for same) that were to become the mechanical foundation for his later forays into lightweight, delicately balanced, wind-activated kinetic sculpture. Rickey died at his home in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on July 17, 2002, at the age of 95. The Rickey Estate is currently represented by Kasmin Gallery in New York City. The Rickey archive will have a permanent home at Notre Dame.


Image:George Rickey Ri10.gif, ''Vier Vierecke im Geviert'' (''Four squares in the Geviert''), 1969, Stahl, Berlin Image:Benesse house08s3200.jpg, ''Three Squares Vertical Diagonal'', Naoshima, Kagawa prefecture, Japan Image:Grenoble art 03.jpg, ''Conversation'', Musée de Grenoble, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Grenoble, Isère, France Image:Brunnen am Berliner Platz in Ludwigshafen.jpg, ''Conversation'', 1999, Ludwigshafen, Germany Image:Muenster Drei rotierende Quadrate 8803.jpg, ''Drei rotierende Quadrate'' (''Three rotary squares''), Münster, Germany Image:RICKEY4.jpg, Kinetic sculpture, Germany Image:Rickey Rotterdam 02.JPG, Kinetic sculpture, Rotterdam, Netherlands Image:Rickey Rotterdam 06.JPG, Kinetic sculpture (1971), Rotterdam, Netherlands Image:George Rickey Two Lines Oblique Gyratory II 1989.jpg, ''Two Lines Oblique Gyratory II,'' private collection

Honors and awards

* (1999
Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award
International Sculpture Center.

See also

* ''Double L Excentric Gyratory'' *Indianapolis Art Center which hosted the retrospective show ''A Life in Art: Works by George Rickey'' * ''Two Lines Up Excentric Variation VI'' (1977), Columbus, Ohio


* Honolulu Museum of Art, ''Spalding House Self-guided Tour, Sculpture Garden'', 2014, p. 13 * Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, ''An Annotated Inventory of Outdoor Sculpture in Washtenaw County'', Master's Degree Project, 1989. * Lizzi, Maria. Archivist, George Rickey Workshop, East Chatham, NY * New Jersey State Museum, ''Sculptures by George Rickey and James Seawright'', New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, 1970. * Frank Popper, Popper, Frank, ''Origins and Development of Kinetic Art'', Studio Vista and New York Graphic Society, 1968. * Thalacker, Donald, ''The Place of Art In the World of Architecture'', Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1980, pp. 61–63.

External links

The George Rickey Foundation

''Cluster of Four Cubes''
at National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden - video 5' 6"

Galerie Ludorff, Düsseldorf, Germany

an article about Rickey's work at RPI. *
Photos of George Rickey Sculptures

George Rickey
in the National Gallery of Australia Kenneth Tyler Collection {{DEFAULTSORT:Rickey, George Warren 1907 births 2002 deaths Modern sculptors American abstract artists 20th-century American sculptors American male sculptors Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faculty Muhlenberg College faculty Works Progress Administration workers People of the New Deal arts projects People educated at Glenalmond College New York University Institute of Fine Arts alumni Kinetic art