Berlin Art@Site George Rickey Double N

George Rickey


Double N

Fasanenstrasse 25
Halfway between Calder’s ‘Mobiles’ and Tinguely’s ‘Machines’, Rickey’s elegant and balanced sculptures focus upon movement rather than materials. External elements such as wind create a smooth and hypnotic movement, which lead the viewer into a contemplative state.
George Warren Rickey (June 6, 1907 – July 17, 2002) was an American kinetic sculptor.
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 seminal Two Lines Temporal I, after Alfred Barr, MOMA's then Director, had seen it at the exhibition Documenta III in Kassel, Germany.
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.
As one of the world’s foremost kinetic sculptors, sharing much in common with Calder and Tinguely, Rickey emerges as a unique and powerful presence in his own right by focusing on "movement as means." Less interested in the form of his sculptures than in the patterns of their movement, he also eschews motorized mechanization. His theoretical writings regarding kinetic sculpture combine a unique sensitivity to the forces that define the world with an especially well-developed talent for analytical insight.
During World War II, Rickey was drafted into the Army Air Corps."It was an event that dramatically altered the course of my life." he recalls. In the Army, Rickey discovered his latent technical prowess while maintaining computing instruments for gun-control turrets in B-29 bombers. Besides mechanical skill, this task required an understanding of the effects of wind and gravity in ballistics, skills that he would rely upon as he switched from painting to kinetic sculpture. Following his discharge from the Army, Rickey pursued additional training in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and later the Institute of Design in Chicago.
Articulation of motion fascinates and compels Rickey, a motion that is akin to the functioning of nature, yet apart from it. This motion is not motor-driven but relies instead on gravity and principles of physics: equilibrium and momentum. His exquisitely engineered steel sculpture—straight-edged, geometric, and regular—responds to wind and the pull of gravity through counterweights and bearings. Rickey often employs the compound pendulum to control and lengthen the movement of his geometric forms. Rickey weights the tapering arms of his sculptures internally with lead, so that he positions the point of balance where he chooses, thereby controlling the momentum. The movement is slow, smooth, and unpredictable, evoking a mesmerizing quality of repetition and variation that captivates the viewer; like ocean waves, Rickey’s work responds to the same natural laws of motion and captivates the viewer with the same mesmerizing quality of repetition and variation.