- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Segal, George, 1924-2000
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
- George Segal Papers
- Manuscripts Division
- Permanent URL:
- 1936-2010, bulk 1970/1999
- 126 boxes
- Storage Note:
This collection is stored onsite at Firestone Library.
Business files, correspondence, photographs, artwork, writings, and clippings of George Segal (1924-2000), 20th-century American sculptor, artist, and photographer active from the late 1950s until 1999. The papers contain photographs taken by and of the artist, correspondence and all business files relating to exhibitions, records of the production of public commissions, writings by and about Segal, audio and visual media, and exhibition catalogs.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The George Segal Papers document over sixty years of the artist's life and include materials relating to almost every aspect of his creative work: photography, exhibitions, critical reception, activity within the art world, and personal interests beyond that of sculpture. The collection includes artwork, photographic prints and slides, negatives, handwritten and typed correspondence, book drafts and articles, audio and visual media, notebooks and early school assignments, photocopied newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs and posters, and the photography of Donald Lokuta.
One of the most unique aspects of the collection is a series of artwork produced by Segal during his early education as an artist. These sketches and paintings in a variety of media highlight the heretofore unknown development of Segal's approach before and during his establishment as a major artist and feature many themes that prefigure his later work in sculpture, including sensuality and urban environments.
The bulk of the collection (and also representing a rarely seen aspect of Segal's art) is a collection of photographic prints produced over the course of some sixteen years towards the end of Segal's life. These prints chronicle Segal's interest in photography and his fascination with the environs immediately surrounding his home in South Brunswick, New Jersey, as well as New York City and cities abroad.
A large part of the collection consists of business files on a variety of topics that span Segal's entire career. Rich in information and opinion, this material provides a wide and varied portrait of the man as well as the artist, lending particular insight into the interpersonal relationships Segal had with family and friends (often used as models in his sculpture). This is demonstrated by personal correspondence and intimate photographs present in the collection.
At the same time, Segal was very active in regard to creating, exhibiting and speaking about his own artwork evidenced by the bulk of business correspondence relating to the production and exhibition of his work, numerous photographs of Segal sculpting, decade's worth of interviews and awards recorded on visual and audio media, and over fifty years of newspaper and magazine clippings that trace his career and celebrity. Segal's personal and other artistic interests are reflected in the causes he was a part of, the projects and commissions he was involved in, and the photography he created.
The collection is organized into ten major series with additional subdivisions.
- Collection Creator Biography:
George Segal was born on November 26, 1924, in the Bronx, New York, the second son of two Jewish immigrants established as kosher butchers. Segal spent his youth in New York City and developed a keen interest in the pursuit of art while attending local schools and colleges. He studied the subject until 1942 when his older brother was drafted as a result of the United States entering World War II. Segal joined his family in South Brunswick, New Jersey where they had re-located in 1940, dividing his time between learning the trade of a chicken farmer and supplementing his education part-time.
After his marriage in 1946 to Helen Segal (nee Steinberg), he returned to school in New York City in order to continue his already established interest in the fine arts. New York was a milieu of influence for the young artist as the heady environment of Abstract Expressionism began to give rise to a younger generation of artists. Segal joined his fellows both in New York and at nearby Rutgers University in developing, expanding and participating in what became the Pop, Fluxus, and Op movements of the late 1950s and 1960s.
Having begun his artistic life as a painter, Segal was frustrated by the medium and his inability to express concepts of space and reality in daily life through heavy and often dogmatic abstraction. He began to experiment with armature sculpture in the summer of 1958, between posts as an educator. It was not until 1961 and a much-storied experience with plaster-impregnated bandages that Segal found his medium in live-cast plaster sculptures.
Segal's success in exhibiting at the Hansa, Reuben, Green, and Sidney Janis Galleries allowed him to support his family entirely on his own art by 1964. After completing his Masters of Fine Arts at Rutgers University in 1963, he began to exhibit and produce sculpture full-time. He had purchased property in 1949 in order to establish his own farm near that of his father's and built a 300-foot long chicken coop divided into ten rooms, with space for a few thousand hens. These coops would become his studio and gallery spaces for the duration of his career which, coupled with the environment of his family farm, became not only a hallmark of Segal's artistic activity but of the intimate and friendly atmosphere intrinsic to the man.
Segal continued to sculpt through the 1970s, experimenting with new materials and forms such as bas-reliefs, fragments, and an internal casting method using hydrostone that came to define his later work. In 1976, Segal created his first public commission of a work in bronze, a turning point in his career that would bring much attention and publicity to his bronzes, both public and privately commissioned, from that point on. Segal became famous both for those public works that engendered great controversy, such as Abraham and Isaac – In Memory of May 4, 1970 located at Princeton University, as well as those works so significant that they became known on a national level, as in the case of the sculptures created for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Segal returned to drawing and sketching in the 1980s and 1990s, also taking time to experiment with small projects and becoming active in certain organizations. In the early 1980s Segal began a serious pursuit of fine photography, documenting those environments in New York and New Jersey that had influenced the creation of many of his sculptural environments. These pursuits, old and new, continued along with his sculpting until 1999. George Segal died on June 9, 2000 at the age of 75. He was survived by his wife Helen and their two children, Jeffrey and Rena.
Fall 1941 - Spring 1942
Cooper Union School of Art
Fall 1942 - 1946
Rutgers University (part-time)
Fall 1947 - Spring 1948
Pratt Institute of Design
Fall 1948 - Spring 1949
New York University
Fall 1961 - Spring 1963
Rutgers University (Master of Fine Arts)
Awards and Honors
Doctor of Fine Arts, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Award of Excellence, Cheltenham (PA) Art Center
Doctor of Humane Letters, Kean College of New Jersey, Union, NJ
Visual Arts Award, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY
The Mayer Sultzberger Award, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
Israel Cultural Award from the State of Israel Bonds, New York, NY
Israel Achievement Award from World Zionist Organization/American Zionist Organization, New York, NY
Hall of Fame/Rutgers Achievement Award, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
The Governor's Walt Whitman Creative Arts Award, State of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ
Alumni Achievement Award from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
National Arts Club Artist Award, New York, NY
Distinguished Alumnus Award from New York University, New York, NY
Order of Andres Bello, First Class from The Republic of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela
Visual Arts Award from New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, Summit, NJ
Doctor of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at Purchase, Purchase, NY
International Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture from the International Sculpture Center, Washington D.C.
New Jersey Pride Award for Outstanding Contribution to the State of New Jersey
Doctor of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo, Japan
National Medal of Arts. Washington D.C.
Awards and Honors Chronology adapted from information provided courtesy of The George and Helen Segal Foundation.
Gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation in 2009 (AM 2009-73).
Donald Lokuta photographs of George Segal at work and at home were the gift of the photographer in 2009 (AM 2010-5).
Additional business files were a gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation in 2011 (AM 2012-45).
Additional business files and exhibition catalogs were a gift of The George and Helen Segal Foundation in 2019 (AM 2020-34).
Box 113 contains giclée prints produced from original negatives in 2010.
- Custodial History:
Files, photographs, and artwork were gathered from the Segal home, office, and studio.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
Personal family photographs were returned to the Segal family.
- Processing Information:
The contents of Series 1: Artwork underwent sterilization via ozone to address mildew and bacterial concerns. The materials were then flattened, sleeved, enclosed, and/or matted as appropriate for their medium and/or format.
This collection was processed by Valerie Addonizio in January-July 2009 and January 2010, with assistance from Ayse Gursoy and Christine Call. Finding aid written by Valerie Addonizio in 2009; updated with new material in 2010 and 2012.
The 2019 accession was processed and added to the finding aid by Kelly Bolding in November 2019. Materials in this accession were intellectually integrated into the existing arrangement of the collection, namely into Series 3: Business Files and Subseries 9A: Catalogs. At this time, materials from the 2012 accession (formerly Series 11: Additional Material) were also intellectually integrated into Series 3: Business Files.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research, with the exception of audiovisual media that have not been digitized.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Works of art rendered in any medium (including ink, pencil, and crayon) and on any support (including sketchbooks, paper, board) and in any form (including doodles and illustrated assignments), as well as photographs by George Segal and any art works by George Segal depicted in photographs are copyright The George and Helen Segal Foundation. Photoduplication for personal scholarly use is permitted. Reproductions for the purpose of publication, whether in print or electronic media, must be authorized in writing by The George and Helen Segal Foundation or its licensing VAGA (Visual Artists and Galleries Association), New York City.
Rights and permissions of the Donald Lokuta photographs are retained by the creator. Photoduplication is permitted for personal scholarly use only. Reproductions for the purpose of publication, whether in print or electronic media, must be authorized in writing by Donald Lokuta or his licensing agent VAGA (Visual Artists and Galleries Association), New York City.
Beyond Segal and Lokuta, the library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form.
- Credit this material:
George Segal Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Subject Terms:
- Art Study and teaching -- 20th century.
Art, Modern -- 20th century.
Avant-garde (Aesthetics) -- Exhibitions.
Bronze sculpture -- 20th century.
Figure sculpture, American -- 20th century.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (Washington, D.C.)
Photographers -- New Jersey -- 20th century.
Photography -- New Jersey -- 20th century.
Photography -- New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century.
Photography of art.
Photography, Artistic -- 20th century.
Pop art -- Exhibitions.
Portrait photography -- United States -- 20th century.
Public art -- United States -- Public opinion.
Public sculpture, American -- 20th century.
Sculptors -- New Jersey -- 20th century.
- Genre Terms:
- Artist files -- 20th century.
Audiocassettes -- 20th century.
Correspondence -- 20th century.
Doodles -- 20th century.
Exhibition catalogs -- 20th century.
Paintings (visual works) -- 20th century.
Photographs -- 20th century.
Posters -- 20th century.
Prints (visual works) -- 20th century.
Project files -- 20th century.
Sketchbooks -- 20th century.
Sketches -- 20th century.
Technical drawings -- 20th century.
Videocassettes -- 20th century.
- Sidney Janis Gallery
Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture
Erffa, Helmut von, 1900-1979
Friedman, Martin L., 1917-
Janis, Sidney, 1896-1989
Lokuta, Donald P.
Miller, Samuel C. (Samuel Clifford), 1930-
Segal, George, 1924-2000
Van der Marck, Jan, 1929-2010
Weisman, Frederick R., 1912-1994