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The internationally renowned kinetic sculptor George Rickey (1907-2002) was born in Indiana, but raised in Scotland. His father was an engineer and his grandfather a clockmaker and both of them encouraged Rickey’s childhood interest in engineering. Rickey, however, put his interest in engineering on hold and instead received his bachelor’s degree in History from Balliol College, Oxford, and simultaneously studied drawing at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art. Following his graduation he traveled to France, settling for a time in Paris where he enrolled in classes at the Académie Moderne with Fernand Léger and with André Lhote and the Académie L’Hote. Rickey returned to the United States in the 1930s after accepting a teaching position at the Groton School. He continued to pursue art; painting, drawing, and murals occupied his artistic interests during this period. He ultimately taught painting at a number of schools nationally as part of the Carnegie Corporation Artists in Residence Program organized by the Works Progress Administration.
During World War II, Rickey served in the Army Air Corps where he was involved in testing mechanical instruments for war planes. This experience reawakened his interest in engineering. Following the war, Rickey took advantage of the GI Bill to refocus his artistic interest on sculpture. He studied at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York and at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he shifted focus to geometrical sculpture. Rickey was soon creating kinetic sculptures, which would occupy him for the remainder of his career and which would establish him as a world-renowned sculptor. Rickey has long been recognized as a master of sculptural innovation in his use of materials, his revolutionary conceptualization of space and movement, and his lyrical aesthetic. Rickey continued to sculpt from his studio in East Chatham, New York, until his death in 2002.
Rickey’s work can be found in the collections of over seventy national and international collections, including MOMA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art; the Tate Gallery, London; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His public commissions can further be seen in public spaces in cities and towns and on college campuses country-wide.