George Rickey, 1989; Photo: Richard Leslie Schulman
George Rickey was born on June 6, 1907 in South Bend, Indiana, of New England heritage. The third of six children, and only boy, he moved to Scotland in 1913 with his parents and sisters. He spent his formative years at Glenalmond, a boarding school near Perth. He always attributed his love for learning to his years there, and on graduation was accepted at Oxford where he studied Modern History at Balliol College, with frequent visits to the Ruskin School of Drawing. Following his heart, and against the advice of his father, upon graduating he spent the following year in Paris, studying at Académie L'Hote and Académie Moderne, while earning his keep as an English instructor at the Gardiner School. In Paris he met Endicott Peabody, Rector at Groton School, Massachusetts, who offered him a job as history teacher at Groton, where he remained for three years after his return to the States in 1930.
He maintained an art studio in New York from 1934 to 1942, when he was drafted. In 1947 he married Edith (Edie) Leighton (died 1995); they had two sons: Stuart, b. 1953, and Philip, b. 1959. 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. 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. From 1985 to 1995 they also wintered and worked in his Santa Barbara, California, studio, their "Nest in the West", as Edie fondly named it. In his later years he also maintained a small studio in Santa Barbara, as well as in St. Paul, where he died on July 17, 2002.
The George Rickey Foundation and Estate works with Marlborough Gallery, New York.