George Warren Rickey



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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 that 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 spent 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 resigned as professor at Tulane University. Rickey was 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 received 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.

Sculpture and Movement

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, but his works can also be found in public venues.


1921/1926 – Visit to Trinity College, Glenamond, Scotland.

1926/1929 – Studied at Balliol College, Oxford, England.

1929/30 – Work at the Academie Lhote and the Academie Moderne in Paris.

1940 – Acquaintance with Lyonel Feininger.

1945/46 – Study of art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

1948/49 – Studies at the Institute of Design, Chicago. Rickey listens to lectures by Naum Gabo. Acquaintance with Max Beckmann. The first kinetic works are created.

1955 – First sculpture exhibition in New York.

1955/1961 – Professor of Art, Newcomb College, Tulane University, New Orleans.

1957 – First sculpture exhibition in Europe.

1960 – Residence and studio in East Chatham, New York.

1960/61 – Guggenheim Fellowship.

1964 – Participation in documenta III, Kassel.

1968 – Participation in documenta 4, Kassel.

1974 – Member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters.

1977 – Participation in documenta 6, Kassel.

1985 – Studio in Santa Barbara, California.

1987 – Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin.





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