George Rickey was an American Kinetic Sculptur whose career spanned the 20th century. Born in South Bend, Indiana on June 6, 1907, he was educated from the age of 13 in Scotland after his family's move there in 1920. Rickey studied History at Balliol College Oxford from 1926-29, before transferring to Paris, where he continued his studies until 1930. The son of a mechanical engineer and the grandson of a clockmaker, Rickey’s interest in things mechanical re-awakened during his wartime work in aircraft and gunnery systems research and maintenance. Although trained as a painter, he turned from painting to sculpture in l949. Inspired by Alexander Calder's mobiles and his love of engineering and mechanics Rickey produced his first kinetic works in 1949. All of his mobiles and kinetic sculptures perform their movements without any auxiliary engine, like those of Jean Tinguely. Rickey used the laws of nature, wind power and gravity for his artwork. His first sculpture was shown in New York in 1951 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's group show "American Sculpture 1951", and in Europe in 1957, and he is extensively represented in public and private collections in the US and abroad. In 1960 he and his family moved to an old farmhouse in East Chatham, New York, which remained his main residence and studio. In 1966 he gave up teaching and devoted his time to sculpture. From 1968 to 1995 he kept a studio in Berlin, Germany, where he spent most winter months constructing sculpture and preparing for exhibitions in Europe.
Numerous prizes and awards followed after his 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 George Rickey produced numerous mobiles from stainless steel elements as hanging or standing objects. For these, he transferred the principle of the pendulum to the surrounding space. George Rickey's works are mostly simple constructions ("Zwei Linien hinein" or "Sechs horizontale Linien") implemented with scientific precision. Even the 60 cm mobile sculpture "One up, one down oblique", created in 1975, worked according to these principles.
Along side these small mobiles, Rickey also designed numerous free-standing sculptures, most of which were directly connected to the building, and thus realized the idea of "Kunst am Bau" (art in construction). Important examples are a 5 meter tall piece consisting of asymmetrically attached, metal arms, tapering like needles on the premises of the Fachhochschule Fulda, and the kinetic sculpture at the broadcasting center of the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt, Main. It consists of three stainless steel bars, which seem to float weightlessly.
Many of his works during this period have been largescale public commissions for sites in the United States, Europe, and Japan. George Rickey died at home in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 17, 2002 at the age of 95.