George Warren Rickey

George Warren Rickey (* 6 June 1907 in South Bend, Indiana; † 17 July 2002 in Saint Paul, Minnesota) was an American sculptor. A proponent of kinetic art, he is considered a pioneer of the artistic avant-garde.

Education George Rickey

George Rickey was born on 06 June in the US town of South Bend. Due to a professional transfer of his father, the family moved to Scotland in 1913, where Rickey attended Trinity College in Glenamond from 1921. He then studied history at Balliol College at the University of Oxford in England from 1926 to 1929.
In 1928 the artist travelled to Paris for the first time. After completing his studies in Oxford, the artist travelled to Paris again to continue his studies at the Academie Lhote and the Academie Moderne.
George Rickey returned to the USA in 1930 and taught at various schools there. His first solo exhibition took place in 1933 at the Caz-Delbo Gallery in New York. He showed drawings and paintings.

George Rickey's early work and first kinetic sculptures

The artist met Lyonel Feininger in 1940. When the USA entered the Second World War, Rickey was drafted in 1942 and now served in the U.S. Army Air Force. He worked there as an engineer in the research departments for aircraft and weapons systems.
In 1945 he created his first sculpture. After the end of the war, Rickey began studying art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in the same year.
This was followed by studies at the Institute of Design in Chicago in 1948. Rickey attended lectures by Naum Gabo, a Russian Constructivist sculptor.
In the same year, Rickey met the German artist Max Beckmann. A lively friendship developed.
He created his first kinetic sculptures in 1949, using glass to make them. From then on, he devoted himself intensively to the construction of figures and began to work with metal. His first sculpture exhibition followed in 1955 at the Kraushaar Gallery in New York. In the same year he received a professorship at Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans. The artist held this position until 1961.

George Rickey and Europe

In 1957, Rickey spends a few months at the American Academy, a major US cultural institution in Rome that awards 30 fellowships annually. In the same year, his first sculpture exhibition opened in Europe. It was shown at the Amerika-Haus in Hamburg.
In 1960 and 1961, George Rickey was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1961 he resigns as professor at Tulane University. Rickey is invited to documenta III in 1964, to the 4th documenta in 1968 and to documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977. With these invitations, the artist also began to settle in Berlin and to prepare his exhibitions in Europe from there. He will use the Berlin studio until 1995.
In 1974, George Rickey was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He also receives an honorary doctorate from Indiana University in Bloomington. The Akademie der Künste in Berlin accepted the artist in 1987.
The artist spent the last years of his life in California near Santa Barbara and in St. Paul in Minnesota, where he died on 17 July 2002.
The basic structure of his sculptural works is a vertical metal rod with freely swinging elements attached to its upper end. These are designed in such a way that even a slight movement of the air causes the attached elements to move in a variety of ways.
In this way, Rickey playfully demonstrates how wind power and gravity can produce movement in harmony. His sculptures are not only exhibited internationally in renowned museums and collections, his works can also be found in public venues.

George Rickey One Up, One Down, Excentric III, 1978-90, stainless steel, H: 120 cm


Visit to Trinity College, Glenamond, Scotland.
Studied at Balliol College, Oxford, England.
Work at the Academie Lhote and the Academie Moderne in Paris
Acquaintance with Lyonel Feininger
Study of art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Studies at the Institute of Design, Chicago. Rickey listens to lectures by Naum Gabo. Acquaintance with Max Beckmann. The first kinetic works are created
First sculpture exhibition in New York
Professor of Art, Newcomb College, Tulane University, New Orleans
First sculpture exhibition in Europe
Residence and studio in East Chatham, New York
Guggenheim Fellowship
Participation in documenta III, Kassel
Participation in documenta 4, Kassel
Member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters.
Participation in documenta 6, Kassel
Studio in Santa Barbara, California
Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin

Artist groups

Kinetic Art

Kinetic art deals with the medium of movement - based on the principle of kinetics. It was developed in the 1920s by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo or Man Ray, who experimented with three-dimensionality and movement in and through space in their sculptures. The foundations for this mostly come from the technical-mechanical field. In addition to movement, the artworks at times play with optical illusions created through incidence of light and the movement of the viewers around the work. Kinetic art reached its peak in the middle of the 20th century, when Alexander Calder's mobiles and experimental art objects of the "ZERO" group, but also the sculptural works of George Rickey or Jean Tinguely were increasingly exhibited and collected.