Gay Liberation,” a Sculpture by George Segal

Though not owned by NYU, Gay Liberation Monument is viewable near NYU's campus at 51-53 Christopher Street, and is a part of the Stonewall National Monument. The following describes the works:

This sculpture by NYU Alum George Segal, (Steinhardt BA '49) (1924–2000) honors the gay rights movement and commemorates the events at the Stonewall Inn opposite this park that gave rise to the movement.

History of the Stonwall Riots

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn and a melee ensued in which 13 people were arrested. Word of the raid and the resistance to it soon spread, and the next day hundreds gathered to protest the crackdown and advocate the legalization of gay bars. Further protests erupted in early July, and on July 27, a group of activists organized the first gay and lesbian march, from Washington Square to Stonewall. The events of that summer and their aftermath are often credited as the flashpoint for the gay rights movement in the United States.

About the Artist

George Segal was an important and influential American artist in the late 20th century, who earned a degree in art education from NYU's School of Education in 1949. 

Born and raised in New York City, he settled in 1940 on a farm in South Brunswick, New Jersey. His first one-man exhibit was in 1956 at Hansa Gallery, and he was later represented by Sidney Janis Gallery. Segal’s work is in more than 65 public collections, and he has been the subject of several major museum retrospectives. Some of his more noteworthy pieces include The Holocaust (1982) in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, The Commuters (1982) in New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, and his three tableaux for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC. (1995).

Segal’s conception for Gay Liberation is typical of his work. Four figures - two standing males and two seated females - are positioned on the northern boundary of the park, in natural, easy poses. Using a process in which bronze casts are made from plaster moulds from the human models, Segal tempers the realistic surfaces with an unearthly white-painted finish. The result is specific, evocative, and understated, showing the public comfort and freedom to which the gay liberation movement aspired.

NYU Art in Public Places

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