Born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1907, Rickey was raised near Glasgow, Scotland. Rickey read modern history at Balliol College, Oxford, took classes in drawing at the Ruskin School, then studied paintings in Paris at Musée d’Orsay and at the Académie Moderne with Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant.
During the 1930s he painted first in a Cézannesque style, later in a Depression-era, social realist mode. He supported himself by teaching at Groton and at a series of colleges and universities.In World War II Rickey served in the Army Air Corps, testing computing instruments used by bomber gunners. The work required both mechanical skill and understanding the effects of wind and gravity on ballistics, laying the foundation of his move from painting to kinetic sculpture.
Under the G.I. Bill, Rickey studied at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and from 1948-1949 attended the Institute of Design in Chicago, an outpost of Bauhaus teaching. Intrigued by both the history of constructivist art and by the mobiles of Alexander Calder, he began creating kinetic sculptures. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Rickey developed systems of motion for his sculpture that responded to the slightest variation in air currents. Over the next three decades he developed sculpture with parts made of lines, planes, rotors, volumes, and churns, moving in paths that change from simple oscillation to conical gyrations, describing a variety of planes or volumes. Many works during this period have been large-scale public commissions for sites in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Rickey died at home in St. Paul, Minnesota, on 17 July 2002 at the age of 95.
“This film is about George Rickey’s sculpture throughout the seasons on the grounds of his studio in Upstate New York. It shows them in all kinds of weather, in conversation with the surrounding landscape and light. It is a film analogy to Rickey’s work, showing his poetry over time. The film was done with the encouragement of the George Rickey Estate and Foundation. It captures the body of outdoor works left at his death on the grounds of his studio before they began to be dispersed through exhibition and sales. It preserves the poetic harmony of Rickey’s austere, light reflective geometric elements in conversation with the ever-changing landscape surroundings of his studio.” -Philip Rickey
In, George Rickey…Works, you will experience the moving work of George Rickey as never before… a great body of his work captured in the environment that inspired him. The simple truth concerning George Rickey’s sculpture is that photographs of his work can’t tell the story. His pieces were conceived with a notion of space, movement and a sense of time.
In George Rickey…Works, the artist’s pieces are given an elegant treatment capturing their movement and environment and setting it to music. You explore the unique choreography of steel playing against the wind… catching the sun… reflecting in the water. Rickey’s pieces are seen as an infinitely evolving delight throughout the seasons.
Private collectors and museums around the globe are acquiring the art presented in George Rickey…Works. The content of this film can never be duplicated.
Paul Kreft | producer, director, editor, All the Right Angles
Nancy Glier | associate producer, All the Right Angles
David Morrison | director of photography
Kevin Macdonald | Rickey interview footage
Thomas R. Schiff | panoramic photography
RCA Victor Group | recordings
Lightborne | post production
Kendall Bruns | graphic design
The score is a selection of works from Windham Hill’s The Sounds of Wood and Steel Vols. 1, 2 & 3. The music, written and performed by an array of the world’s most gifted guitarists, is perfectly suited to this art. The crystalline notes from the guitars match the purity of shape and movement.
Sleep On It Tonight
Performed by T. J. Baden, Jimmy Messina, Chris Pelonis
Nothings Too Good For A Friend/The Wings of Morning
Performed by Doyle Dykes
Performed by T. J. Baden
Performed by Clint Black
Performed by Phil Keaggy
Performed by Dave Mathews
Performed by Leo Kottke
Performed by Jars of Clay
Year Down In New Orleans
Performed by Nanci Griffith
Performed by Russ Freeman
Performed by Steve Poltz
Sounds of Wood & Steel
Sounds of Wood & Steel 2
Sounds of Wood & Steel 3
“George Rickey…Works is a sort of lyrical documentary where the camera explores and the viewer extracts meaning from the poetry of the movement. Much in the way Rickey, himself imposed no text on his work, this film invites the audience to pause and think. The lack of a linear monologue is countered by a dramatic arc created by the choreography of the sculpture against the music. I am pleased to include it in my library.” —Kevin Macdonald, Academy Award winning director
“After I saw this film, I honestly felt like I was on a relaxing sunny cultural journey. In all categories of kinetic art, George Rickey is the most impressive artist, whose expression is the movement itself. George Rickey…Works captures this and presents it in a document that will educate and inspire for years to come.” —Bernward Frank, kinetic artist and founder of kineticus.com
“I’ve seen your film, and I just wanted to say how beautiful it is. George Rickey must have been a lovely fellow. The editing is very imaginative, the photography terrific, and the location and colours stunning. Though I wasn’t sure at the beginning whether I’d like the stark outlines of the sculptures, I was won over by the unpredictability and soothing effect of their movement and by their diverse textures.” —Anthony Goldstone, concert pianist
“George Rickey…Works has been a wonderful addition to our museum store’s inventory. Our ability to preview it to our customers allows them to see more of this sculptor’s work than the single piece on our museum grounds. The unique way this production is edited takes the viewer from the serenity of a delicate spring day to the raging snow of a winter’s storms while exhibiting these magnificent works of art in the midst of nature’s glory. Works is engaging, visually relaxing, and truly a magnificent tribute to George Rickey. Kick your feet up and simply enjoy.” — Kay Schiller Hyde, Museum Store Manager - McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX