George Segal, an American pop-art icon of the '60s known for his life-size plaster sculptures, died of cancer June 9 at his home in South Brunswick, N.J. He was 75.
Mr. Segal began his career as a painter but later turned to sculpture. "I couldn't divorce myself from the sensual things of life--things I could touch," he said.
He received a National Medal of the Arts from President Clinton in 1999.
Mr. Segal's sculptures include "Cezanne's Still Life," a breakfast table with ripe fruit, teapot and milk pitcher modeled after the famous painting, and "Woman on Orange Bed," a nude woman lounging on a rumpled, sun-streaked bed.
He also created a life-size Depression-era bread line for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington.
"I wanted to take sculpture off its pedestal," Mr. Segal said in a 1985 interview at a Paris exhibition. "I wanted something solid, something I could walk into and walk around and be a part of. But I also want this marriage between the physical and the state of mind."
To get his full-size, lifelike figures, Mr. Segal wrapped real models in plaster to make molds.
"I like the freshness of the paint, the strokes. I like making the marks," he said in the Paris interview. "But I moved into three dimensions because all these very intelligent abstract conceptions and ideas about art blocked my painting on flat canvas."
David Janis, a New York art dealer who was Mr. Segal's agent, said the artist's works are in 150 museums and many more private collections.
"Segal was the most influential American figurative sculptor of the 20th century and certainly one of the most important of the 20th century, period," Janis said. "He had a very sophisticated and deep understanding of people and expressed that through his sculpture."
Mr. Segal grew up in New York and studied art at Cooper Union, the Pratt Institute, New York University and Rutgers University.
In the 1940s, his family moved to South Brunswick, where his father ran a chicken farm. Mr. Segal later bought a chicken farm across the road from his parents and operated it for about 10 years.
He taught art and English for several years in local high schools before he was able to earn enough to live from his art.
Mr. Segal is survived by his wife, Helen Steinberg; a daughter, Rena Segal; a son, Jeffrey Segal; and a brother, Morris.