George Warren Rickey


Honorary Degree (1974)
Doctor of Fine Arts
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


George Warren Rickey's pliers - along with his sheet-metal cutters and welding torch - produce movement. His curiously moving metal sculptures wave and wander with the wind, slicing through the air like pendulums, or spinning until the sunlight breaks into a spectral blur.

George Rickey was born in South Bend, Indiana. As a boy, he was gifted with a strong mechanical bent, perhaps inherited from his father, who was a mechanical engineer, as well as his grandfather, who was a clockmaker.

Mr. Rickey studied in several colleges. He first attended Trinity College in Glenalmond, Scotland, from 1921-26. He received his Bachelor and Master's Degree in Arts from Balliol College in Oxford, England. The Academie Lhote (Paris), Institute of Fine Arts (New York University), State University of Iowa, and the Institute of Design (Chicago) were the schools where Mr. Rickey did his postgraduate work.

Mr. Rickey has taught in many colleges in the United States. The first was the exclusive boys' school, Groton, where he taught history and art from 1930-33. He was an Artist in Residence at Olivet College (1937-39); Kalamazoo College (1939-40) and Knox College (1940-41). He served as Head of the Department of Art at Muhlenberg College from 1941-42 and 1946-48. He was an Associate Professor of Design at Indiana University (1949-55) and Professor at Tulane University from 1948-60. While at Tulane, he filled the role of Head of the Department of Art from 1955-59. He is currently Professor of Art in the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he has taught since 1962.
During World War II, the Army Air Corps put Sgt. Rickey to work teaching the use and maintenance of remote-controlled gun turrets in B-29 bombers. Surrounded by servos and selsyns, he made his first moving sculpture. Rickey's mobiles relate to wheels and other mechanical forms - the influence of the constructivists on him has been strong.

George Rickey's sculptures have been exhibited in the Denver Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy, Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Howard Wise Gallery, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, New School, Albright-Knox Gallery, Riverside Museum, and other U.S. and foreign museums. He has had one-man shows at John Herron Art Museum, Kraushar Gallery, Amerika Haus and Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany), Santa Barbara Museum, Kunstverein (Dusseldorf, Germany), Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Staempfli Gallery. His sculptures are represented in the permanent collections of Dallas Museum, Kunsthalle, Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Albright-Knox Gallery, and others. Mr. Rickey was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1961-62.