Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look. . .
E.E. Cummings, 1923
George Segal’s cast plaster sculpture debuted at Dick Bellamy’s Green Gallery on May 8, 1962. The previous summer Segal had begun to experiment with Johnson and Johnson’s new, fast-setting, plaster-impregnated bandages. One sweltering day, Segal sat bare-chested while his wife Helen placed straws in his nostrils and swaddled him head to foot with wet strips. Unfortunately, he hadn’t known to use a protective layer for his skin, and the cast’s removal gave him an unintended wax job.
Man Sitting at a Table, which incorporated this self-portrait, marked a turning point in the artist’s career. One critic who stepped into the Green that May likened Segal’s body casts set within vignettes to a “ghost town dusted with fallout.” They all seemed “in arrested development,” to artist and reviewer Donald Judd, “ambiguously dead or alive, like the plaster casts taken from the molds in volcanic ash of struggling Pompeians.” Judd’s first sculpture would debut at the Green six months later. There’s more about Segal, Judd and the visionary Dick Bellamy in Eye of the Sixties.
You may order the book from Bellamy's son's bookstore.