George Warren Rickey Biography

George Warren Rickey




George Rickey was born in South Bend, Indiana on June 6, 1907 but grew up in Helensburgh, Scotland where his father was an executive for Singer Sewing Machine. From 1926 to 1929 Rickey studied at Trinity College in Scotland and Balliol College at Oxford, where he received a degree in history. He then travelled to Paris, where he continued his studies until 1930 with Lhote, Leger and Ozenfant. Inspired by Alexander Calder's oeuvre, he produced his first mobiles in 1945. In his works George Rickey further developed and perfected the idea of movement and natural time. All his mobiles and kinetic sculptures perform their movements without any auxiliary engine, like those of Jean Tinguely.


He then returned to the United States and began teaching at the Groton School in Massachusetts, where among his many students was future National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy.  After leaving Groton, Rickey worked at various schools throughout the country as part of the Carnegie Corporation's Visiting Artists/Artists in Residence program (partially funded by the WPA)In 1942, Rickey joined the United States Army, where he worked in engineering. Following his discharge, he studied art at the New York University of Fine Arts later at the Chicago Institute of Design, funded by the G.I. Bill.  In 1947 he studied with Mauricio Lasansky at the University of Iowa.


Rickey used the laws of nature, wind power and gravity for his artwork. Numerous prizes and awards followed after a stay in Berlin, supported by a DAAD scholarship, in 1968 and 1969.  In 1987 George Rickey became a member of the Berlin academy of arts. During the 1990’s Rickey produced numerous mobiles from stainless steel elements as hanging or standing objects.


He also lived and worked in Berlin for a short time. In his later years, he divided his time between his home in East Chatham, N.Y., Santa Barbara, California and Saint Paul, Minnesota.  He died at his home in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 17, 2002 at the age of 95.