New York

George Segal

Sidney Janis Gallery

Nine years ago, in my first set of reviews for Artforum, I suggested that George Segal was “the wholly unanticipated heir of Edward Hopper.” More recently, Segal has moved from being our Hopper to our Rodin; his work recalls those French sculptors working with revived Baroque values at the end of the 19th century. The issues that have crystallized in Segal’s oeuvre illuminate not only his work, but also the current revival of figurative art generally, since they address the “content” of the nude, the meaning of the fragment, and the revalidation of academic genre.

Segal’s preoccupation with the female nude has led him—as it does almost all who address this subject deeply—to an awareness of a “decontentualization,” a virtual loss of meaning, that transposes this imagery into an abstract entity, a form without content. Despite the incident or activity depicted, the female nude tends to affect

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