George Segal was a great Humanist whose intimate style of casting people from plaster and incorporating these figures into found and fabricated environments created a new methodology to art’s vocabulary. Segal’s dramatic work often referenced trials and tribulations throughout the modern era.
While his sculptures are in the collections of museum’s across the nation, one of his best known works is displayed prominently in the public space. This piece is Gay Liberation (1980), one of the first public artworks paying tribute to the struggle and perseverance of the LGBT community. Gay Liberation is installed in Christopher Park, a gated plaza across from the historic Stonewall Inn, a LGBT bar that was the scene of a horrific riot where police and LGBT activists clashed in the early morning of June 28, 1969.
The piece is subtle. A man touches his partner’s shoulder; a woman touches her partner’s thigh. Each couple is also connected through their affectionate loving gaze. The figures enjoy a tender embrace, which expresses as the artist stated “the delicate point that gay people are as feeling as anyone else.”
This work is as relevant now as it ever was. Gay Liberation expresses the humanity of the LGBT community, and the truth that both homosexual and heterosexual couples are no different from one another.