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A Study on George Segal's Tableau Sculpture - In Relation with the Happenings

  • Journal of History of Modern Art
  • 1999, (9), pp.57-83
  • Publisher : 현대미술사학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Art > Arts in general > Art History
  • Received : January 31, 1999
  • Accepted : February 28, 1999
  • Published : February 28, 1999

Kyung-Ran Joo 1

1중앙대학교

ABSTRACT

This thesis is a study on the tableau sculpture of American sculptor George Segal, in relation with the Happenings. Segal's casts of humans and theatrical environments composed of daily objects take the nature of tableau sculpture, which are painterly, theatrical or frozen happening. What I am most concerned about is the meaning of time and space, when temporary situations are introduced in the happenings, by which frozen happening could be interpreted. The focus here is the viewer's time experience related to process art. Segal's life casts and tableaux environments composed with daily objects are made in context with the contemporary arts which introduced mediums of life and asked the question of reality. These new stream of novelties eliminate the boundaries between art and life, and expand the environrnents of spectators. Here Happenings play a great role in forming tableaux environments. Especially Segal was directly influenced by Allan Kaprow's aesthetics of the Happenings, where the experience of the viewers was important, with the principle extention of collage, assemblage, environments, and happenings. Segal's life casting which used the actual humans in plaster casts funtionate essentially in tableau sculpture. He casted familiar people and reveals their way of ordinary life experience in a natural way, and the element of change and chance that Segal adds to his works are very important, just as happenings involve the viewers as a creative process. Thus Segal's plaster casts construct the tableaux environments interrelately with common objects, and embody the daily experience. Thus unifying life and environment, Segal's works were translated as a subject matter of Pop art However, his tableaux are expressed urban life in a personal and poetic sense, and are distinguished from Pop art which is commercialized and popular. Assemblaged environments as a metaphor of life make viewers confront and accept the reality of their situations, and create a theatrical space where people undergo experience of duration. The viewers are more active participants and actors in a theatrical space of Segal's tableaux with painterly elements. Thus they become a part of works and, finally complete the total image of tableaux. Compared with Happenings, Segal's tableau sculpture freeze the temporariness of happenings into a sculptural environments. But they are frozen happening, and we can find there the viewers' participation by means of expanding space and their experience of time, which are connected to the process character of happenings. First of all, Segal's tableaux collected collages which repersent pieces of glimpses as an emblem of ordinary life, expanding the environments of the viewers and inducing their active participation. Thus they are carrying out the principle of extending space in the happenings. Segal's frozen happening differs from the other happening in the fact that they preserve the individual existence of materials unlike happenings which seek and convey experiences in the form of 'gossip' without artifact. They also include the specific experience of each models, and expand the experience of time of viewers differently. Therefore Segal's tableau sculpture aimimg at reality is not just the revival of traditional human sculptures, but a new flow of modern sculpture that extends the time span of spectator's experience, in terms of time experienced in the space of environments of viewers.

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