GEORGE RICKEY SCULPTURE at Marlborough Gallery, New York.
Rickey grew up in Helensburgh, Scotland. His bedroom looked over the Clyde estuary, and he learned about engineering, wind, spin and tension from the local blacksmith, Clydeside engineering and from sailing. "I'm glad I had a Scottish education in my baggage," he told me back in 1982. Thirty years ago I was lucky to be able to give him his 75 b-day party in my house in Glasgow. His wife and 2 sons were there too. Now son Philip takes care of the estate.
Rickey showed with Staempfli Gallery in New York and Gimples in London, then was for 30 years with Maxwell Davidson Gallery, before Marlborough. He turned to sculpture late, aged 43. This show of 18 small and 9 large stainless steel sculptures benefit from Marlborough's terrace overlooking 57th St. There circles turn gently - a big piece can take half a minute to swing from side to side - and his famous blades weave and dodge in the slightest breeze: movement with the bare minimum - classic, elegant airborne continuous kinetics like no other. Rickey's pieces have a unique, distinctive genius. marlborough gallery new york
This morning I opened a packet from curators at the Rickey Estate. It contained 2 pieces written by George, one from 1956 from Art & Artist. Rickey's is the best voice about his art. He writes so well.
"My work must have air. Outdoors the air is never quite still, the direction changes, the breeze is, for the most part, silent. Outdoor space requires large pieces and outdoor wind strong ones. They must not only survive, but behave properly in a 40 or 50-mile-an-hour wind. The weight of rain will make a difference, not to mention snow and ice. I must watch a piece outdoors for months before I can be sure of it. In moving it gives to the wind, like a sailing ship. ....... One becomes an artist against prudence; one needs, in addition to talent and energy, a lot of luck. I have been lucky. .. David Smith gave me my first and only welding lesson and the sound advice to be extravagant with materials. ..My concern is with Movement itself. My technology is borrowed from crafts and industry. It has more in common with clocks than with sculpture. The materials are simple: stainless-steel sheet, rods, bars, angles, pipe; lead for counterweights."
"I will drill and bend and file and solder but I will think of the African mask-maker or the faces of Van der Weyden ... I intended to become an engineer as my father had been. Though brought up in Scotland, I expected to follow in his footsteps at M.I.T. But a surfeit of calculus and advanced algebra revolted me just in time. .. The first real artist I saw was Bill (William) Hayter. He was stooping over an enormous canvas ....