Arts in Transit
Chesterfield Arts
St. Louis
Grand Center
U. City

Two Open Ended Triangles Up Gyratory II

Two Open Ended Triangles Up Gyratory II

Artist: George Rickey, American, b. 1907
Title: Two Open Ended Triangles Up Gyratory II, 1982
Media: Stainless steel
Dimensions: 15' h., 8-14' w.
Owner: On loan, St. Louis Art Museum

About the Work
The glint of sunlight on a steel edge, triangles almost move, separate, and then come back together. Clouds drift behind, cutting off the sun. Two Open Triangles Up Gyratory II is a seemingly straightforward stainless steel sculpture with two open triangles perching upon a wand. But that’s only at first glance. Sculptor George Rickey’s work is also the ‘poetry of motion.'

Trained primarily as a painter, Rickey’s childhood interests in moving objects and the power of wind were rekindled during WWII when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps. There, he learned about and then maintained computing instruments relating to the effects of wind and gravity on ballistics. He also maintained a wide variety of technical equipment. This knowledge and skill were later translated into his kinetic sculptures that rely upon principles of physics. His precisely engineered sculptures in steel make use of the pull of gravity, momentum, equilibrium, and the power of the wind. His early sculptures were constructed by soldering found objects. It was the artist David Smith who introduced Rickey to welding techniques using oxyacetylene and also encouraged a more extravagant use of materials.

Although born in South Bend, Indiana, George Rickey spent most of his early years in Scotland. It was there where he learned to sail the family’s boat, a cutter, down the River Clyde. Harnessing the wind would be one of many life experiences that would one day influence his development as an artist. After studying at Oxford, Rickey went to Paris, immersing himself in Cubism. Teaching positions in the United States during the 30s and 40s supported his painting. The G.I. Bill later provided him the opportunity for additional study. Rickey’s work is included in collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis.