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To Love and Be Loved / Gay Liberation in New York City | by Tony Fischer Photography
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To Love and Be Loved / Gay Liberation in New York City

George Segal (November 26, 1924 , New York - June 9, 2000, New Brunswick, New Jersey) was an American painter and sculptor associated with the Pop Art movement. He was presented with a National Medal of Arts in 1999.


Love transcends our artificially-created barriers. We are all children of God, whatever form that God may take. In time, in the United States, we will change - and correct - the discriminatory laws that have been unjustly been imposed on various groups of people within our population.


About the sculpture "Gay Liberation":


In 1979, pop sculptor Segal was commissioned by the Mildred Andrews Fund, a private Cleveland-based foundation that supports public art, to create a work that would commemorate New York City's Stonewall Rebellion, the 1969 riot that conveniently (if somewhat simplistically) marks the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement.


The result was the first piece of public art commemorating the struggle of glbtq people for equality, predating Amsterdam's "Homomonument" by some seven years.


Tellingly, Segal's sculpture has, from the very beginning, been at the center of controversy and suffered the kinds of assaults and bashings that glbtq people themselves have all too often experienced. The sculpture has been attacked frequently (both physically and esthetically) as well as having been moved around. Since 1992, it has stood very comfortably, however, in Sheridan Park, New York, the site of the Stonewall Inn


The sculpture, a life-like, life-size bronze group, painted white, depicts four figures: a standing male couple and a seated female couple. One of the men holds the shoulder of his partner; one of the seated women gently touches her friend's thigh. The poses are non-dramatic, but quietly powerful, suggesting depths of love and companionship.


Segal's aim in his depiction of the couples was to normalize and domesticize homosexual relationships, rescuing them from the sensationalized, over-sexualized images so common in the popular media. At the same time, however, Segal emphasizes the physical element of relationships. The partners' soulful gazing into each other's eyes symbolizes commitment and communion, but their touching represents physical intimacy.


As David Lindsey has observed, "'Gay Liberation' is all about touch and tender, affirmative embrace."


The artist himself remarked, "The sculpture concentrates on tenderness, gentleness and sensitivity as expressed in gesture. It makes the delicate point that gay people are as feeling as anyone else."


The political significance of the mundane reality of loving couples is suggested by the title, "Gay Liberation."


Segal's choice to define gay liberation in terms of ordinary, committed relationships is itself profoundly political. It quietly but unmistakably affirms the unexceptionable observation that the aspirations of gay men and lesbians are no different from those of heterosexual couples. The personal is made political in this case not by the artist or by the couples, but by the social and legal prohibitions against the most basic of human needs, the need to love and be loved.


Some critics complained that the figures appear too sad, but the complex interior life the figures display expresses, at least in part, the ambiguous place gay men and lesbians occupy in the American public consciousness, surely cause enough for sadness.


sources: wiki and glbtq online encyclopedia. see:

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Taken on December 14, 2008