Is it Art or is it a Bench?

You may have noticed an addition to Q-Level of the library: a female figure cast in bronze with a white patina sitting on a park bench. What is it? Where’d it come from? Is it OK to sit on it?

In case you didn’t read our previous blog post about it, this is a sculpture entitled Woman with Sunglasses on Bench, by renowned artist George Segal. The Eisenhower Library was lucky enough to be chosen as the JHU location for this wonderful anonymous gift.

But the question remains, “can I sit on it?” According to Jackie O’Regan, Curator of Cultural Properties at JHU, the answer is YES. Even though the bench is also part of the sculpture - and normally people assume they should not sit on art - the artist created the work to include people, to allow them to share the same space as the art. When you sit next to Woman with Sunglasses you briefly become part of the sculpture.

So, go ahead! Take a seat! When you do interact with this work of art, please show Woman with Sunglasses the care and respect you would any stranger you sit next to on a public bench.

Interested in learning more about George Segal and his art? Take a look at the books we have about him in our collection. Or, look up information about him in the tools found on our Art History Research Guide.

About Donald Juedes

Librarian for Art History, Classics, Film & Media Studies, and Near Eastern Studies

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