George Segal letter
Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041
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Overview and metadata sections
George Segal (1924-2000) was a Jewish American painter and sculptor associated with the pop art movement. His best known works are her life-size figures casts which have minimal color and detail.
"Gay Liberation" was created in 1980 in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising and was commissioned in 1979 (the 10th anniversary of the uprising) by the Mildred Andrews Fund, which specified that the work had to be installed on public land and it "...has to be loving and caring, and show the affection that is the hallmark of gay people…And it had to have equal representation of men and women." The sculpture is made up of two pairs of couples made of bronze and painted white. One couple (two men) are standing while the other couple (two women) are seated. Originally, Segal's work was to create two separate castings and place one in Christopher Park in Greenwich Village and to place the other in Los Angeles. However, many locals opposed the installation, so the project was instead displayed at Stanford University. Shortly after, perpetrators physically cut and jabbed into the sculpture's faces and bodies, and it was removed from public display. When it was displayed for the second time after over a year, it was vandalized again as perpetrators painted derogatory words on the statues. In 1994, some of the players of the Stanford football team splattered the sculpture with paint and wedged a bench in between the figures.
Thomas H. Garver (Haverford '56), the then-director of the Madison Art Center (now the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art) in Wisconsin, arranged a show of the New York casting in the Center's galleries. After the show concluded, Garver arranged to have the sculpture displayed in Orton Park in Madison in 1986 through funding from the New Harvest Foundation. The work was vandalized on at least one occasion.
In 1992, NYC agreed to take "Gay Liberation" and display the casting in Christopher Park. The sculpture was dedicated on June 23, 1992, as part of the dedication of the Stonewall National Monument.
The monument has been criticized for whitewashing Stonewall, arguing that it failed to acknowledge gender-nonconforming people of color who were leaders of the uprising and depicted the event as quiet instead as revolutionary. For example, in one interview, Miss Major, a Black, transgender activist and veteran of Stonewall, declared, "It's bad enough that across the street from Stonewall, they have statues up to commemorate that night. That's cute, but there's not a black statue there! The statues look like they're made from flour and sugar! What is this? Why can't one of the girls go up and throw up a little makeup on one of these bitches?" (Autostraddle: https://www.autostraddle.com/how-dare-they-do-this-again-miss-major-on-the-stonewall-movie-301957/)
Letter from artist George Segal to curator Thomas Garver, congratulating Garver on the installation of Segal's statue "Gay Liberation" in Madison, Wisconsin.
Gift of Thomas Garver, April 2019
Processed by Katherine Hong, completed April 2023
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Katherine Hong
- Finding Aid Date
- April, 2023
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)