George Rickey Artwork at Capital One Center

April 25, 2024

George Rickey was a 20th-century American artist, born in South Bend, Indiana. He spent most of his childhood in the United Kingdom, and received his formal education from Balliol College, Oxford. After studying art in Paris at the Académie L’Hôte and the Académie Moderne, Rickey returned to the states as an art educator and spent nearly two decades as a painter and muralist.

Following World War II, Rickey reinvented himself from a two-dimensional to three-dimensional artist. His wartime work in the Army-air Corps, which focused on aircraft and gunnery, inspired a love for mechanics, engineering and kinetic art. In 1945, he created his first kinetic, or moving, sculpture. By 1950, he was seriously pursuing kinetic sculpture. He continued on this path the rest of his life, participating in important exhibitions like Document a III (1964) and Document IV (1968) in Kassel, Germany and mounting retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1979, and in 1985 at two institutions in South Bend, Indiana: Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame.

Powered by wind currents or shifting sunlight, Rickey’s stainless steel sculptures are defined by their subtle movement. Influenced by nature and Constructivism, a Russian art movement from the early 20th century, the sculptures privileged geometric engineering and new forms of technology. Many of his works responded to the landscape, especially his home in East Chatham, NY.

The two works on view at Capital One Center are powered by the wind–especially small wind gusts–and respond to the natural elements of their environment. The movement, while random, takes on a circular or gyrating pattern, as reflected in the titles. To produce these artworks, Rickey used a careful system of weights to internally balance each sculpture; the work eschews any type of motor.

“I had to develop a language, but what was I going to say with it? I did not want merely to set static art in motion, nor to describe the dynamic world around me in a series of moving images. I wanted the whole range of movement itself at my disposal, not in order to describe the world around me, but to be itself, performing in a world of its own.”

–George Rickey, 1985. Excerpt from George Rickey in South Bend (South Bend: Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame, 1985). Courtesy of The George Rickey Estate.

Rickey was an award-winning, internationally recognized sculptor. His work is now housed in over 150 museum collections, including the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, MO and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Philip Rickey, the artist’s son, manages The George Rickey Estate and his father’s legacy. The estate is also represented by Kasmin Gallery, New York.

Collection of The George Rickey Estate. Courtesy of Kasmin, New York.

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About Capital One Center

Capital One Center is a 35 acre mixed-use development in the heart of Tysons, VA. Anchored by the headquarters of Capital One, Washington DC's hometown bank, and home to its over 12,000 associates in the region, Capital One Center is quickly transforming the skyline and the cultural landscape of Fairfax County. This 3 million sq. ft. development is a vibrant arts & entertainment destination which includes a large skypark, The Perch—complete with Starr Hill Biergarten, food trucks, and an 18-hole miniature golf course—and a 300-all-suite hotel, The Watermark Hotel, numerous retail and dining options, and most notably a world-class corporate events and performing arts center, Capital One Hall.  In 2023 Capital One Park opened doors to a baseball stadium which hosts college, high school, and tournament games.