George Rickey

born South Bend, IN 1907-died St. Paul, MN 2002
Also known as
  • George W. Rickey
  • George Warren Rickey
South Bend, Indiana, United States
St. Paul, Minnesota, United states
Active in
  • East Chatham, New York, United States

Although he was born in South Bend, Indiana, George Rickey's parents moved the family to Scotland when he was six years old. There Rickey attended Trinity College before matriculating at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1926. He earned a BA and MA in Modern History, but was also interested in art, and during his last years at Oxford, 1928 to 1929, he took classes at the Ruskin School of Drawing. From the late twenties to 1937, he traveled and studied in Germany, Paris, and America. After teaching history at Groton School in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1933, he spent a year working in the editorial department of Newsweek magazine in New York.

It was while serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II that Rickey made his first mobile. Back in the United States, influenced by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Calder, Rickey began making kinetic sculpture. His first efforts, inspired by natural forms, were made from glass and intended to hang on a wall, but Rickey quickly substituted the simple, angular forms fashioned from metal that became his signature style.

The slender, carefully balanced, pointer-like forms of these new sculpures responded to the wind and rain. In time, Rickey broadened the size of his elements, forming pieces from rectangular planes that pivoted on a conical base. His art continued to evolve, as Rickey added volumetric elements and new lightweight materials such as stainless steel to his work. These explorations of line, plane, and volume continued and were also revealed in his studies for sculpture. Rickey lives and works in East Chatham, New York.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)