George Sugarman (1912–1999) is best known for his whimsical, brightly colored minimal sculptures. A graduate of the City College of New York, Sugarman served in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war he studied in Paris under Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. He returned to New York in 1955 at the age of 39 to begin his career as an artist. He was among the group of artists who came to prominence in the early 1960s including Anthony Caro, Donald Judd and Mark di Suvero, who made large-scale sculpture that spurned the traditional pedestals to sit directly on the floor, in the viewer's space.
His earliest works were carved from single blocks of wood. In 1959 he created his first painted wood piece, these works infuse the often somber, formalism of that era with a playful pop sensibility. Though he continued his exploration of whimsical, colorfully painted forms, in the 1970s he began to fabricate his sculptures out of aluminum. Unlike many of his contemporaries who sought to remove evidence of the artist’s hand, these works were constructed by the artist and painted with a brush. Sugarman was known to first create his works as cardboard maquettes before finishing each piece as a tabletop sculpture. Ultimately many of these works were intended to be fabricated as monumental outdoor sculptures.
Sculptures by George Sugarman are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center and the Kunstmuseum. His estate is represented by the Loretta Howard Gallery in Manhattan.