George Rickey blended many styles to create his kinetic sculpture. Like his predecessor, Alexander Calder, Rickey was interested in the possibility of movement in sculpture and like his contemporaries, such as Sol Lewitt or David Smith, Rickey created minimalist works which examined the beauty of individual shapes. Rickey’s combination of movement, and minimalism created dynamic sculptures that are able to totally change and rearrange the environment they inhabit and truly capture their audience.
Rickey was born in 1907 in Southbend, Indiana. He spent the first part of his life studying art at various art schools in the United States and in Paris. After receiving his art education, Rickey taught art at many Midwestern schools, including Know College, the University of Indiana and Olivet College. In this part of his career, Rickey was a painter. Inspired by artist in the Workers Progress Administration (WPA) Rickey’s early work was influenced by Social Realism. However, after his years in the army during WWII and after he studied at the Bauhaus Rickey’s art began to change.
In the late 1940’s Rickey began his work with moving geometry. He started to attach simple forms like rectangles and metal spears to podiums and stands. The shapes would be secured by an intricate system of bearings which would allow the shapes to shift or sway from movement. These works exemplified the beauty of possibility. The chance that the shapes might move creates a type of suspense for the sculptor’s viewer. The sculpture has the possibility to change each time it is looked upon and it is this dynamism which makes Rickey’s sculpture so unforgettable.
Rickey continued to make sculpture until he died in 2002. He created several public art works, installing his work in many places all over the globe, including his 57 foot sculpture at the Hyogo Museum in Japan. His work remains in museums, private collections and at the universities he taught at. Rickey’s work will be remembered for its ability to blend the styles from many periods to make unique sculpture which combined geometry with action.