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Segal George

Gottliebs’ Wishing Well, 1963

mixed media
H 163 x W 60 x D 136 cm
H 150 x W 77 x D 67 cm



Collection Marianne et Pierre Nahon Private Collection, Brussels (since 1987)


Pierre Nahon, L'Histoire de la Galerie Beaubourg III 1994-2009, Paris, 2009, pp. 173, 290, illustrated in colour Marianne et Pierre Nahon, Dictionnaire amoureux illustré de l'Art moderne et contemporain, Gründ, 2018, p. 302 George Segal, Modern Masters Series by Phyllis Tuchman, Abbeville Press, New York, 1983, page 31 Sam Hunter, Don Hawthorne, GEORGE SEGAL, Editions Rizzoli International Publications Inc. 1984, page 143, number 134 (illustrated)


163 x 60 x 136 cm; (pinball machine); 150 x 77 x 67 cm; (sculpture) The title makes an ironic reference to the Abstract Expressionist paintings of Adolphe Gottlieb. Reminiscing about the incident that gave birth to this sculpture, Michael Sonnabend noted that the patterning of the pinball machine reminded him of the Cartesian layout of the grounds of Versailles. ... “Segal” [Sonnabend] says “doesn’t want to freeze the world. He wants to externalize situations”. "George Segal's reality is a tragedy in which men and objects are represented alone and lifeless, while a sort of inner will seem to doom them in that same state forever." This sentence by Allan Kaprow, inventor of the happening, perfectly captures the physical and psychological attitude of Segal's "living paintings", which have been compared to mummies or to the bodies of Pompeii inhabitants petrified in the Vesuvius ashes. Forever fixated in the most trivial postures, Segal's sculptures relate to us in spite of the distance conveyed by their plaster media. Their humanity undoubtedly comes from the fact that they were molded on real models. We have known Ileana Sonnabend, the priestess of contemporary art, quite well: first in Paris, rue Mazarine, and in New York after 1968. Her husband Michael posed for George Segal. Together they made the only work created in France on the occasion of an exhibition held in Paris in 1963. We kept Gottlieb's wishing well in our living room rue du Temple. It was a sculpture by Segal of course, but also Michael, forever with us.