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Meet Barbara Segal: The artist that makes luxury bags from luxury stones

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Post by: Camila da Paz | Source: NYPost

Barbara Segal is such an amazing artist I am surprised I've never heard of her work before! Not that I've heard of all amazing artists that are out there, but she creates beautiful sculptures carved from natural stone such as marble, onyx, and calcite.

Born in 1953, she studied at Pratt Institute in New York City in the early 1970's and spent two years at the L'Ècole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After that, she moved to the marble capital of the world - Italy - where she worked in fine studios such as Tommasi Fonderia and SGF Studio Scultura, and with Jacques Lipshitz, Augustin Cárdenas, and Max Bill, before returning to NY in '70s.

Segal uses traditional carving tools such as chisels and stone cutters and acquires material from stone quarries all over the globe. Her work was inspired by the textures and patterns of the Renaissance and Baroque sculptures she saw while studying in France and Italy. In her TedX talk, she speaks on being inspired by cathedrals and the fact that she could see the hand of the artist in these architecture works. She re-recreates pop and fashion icons such as a Louis Vuitton handbag and a Chanel gift bag in stone.

Her work explores society's fascination with status symbols and the impact they have on culture. By turning these cultural objects into 100-pound sculptures made from stone, Segal transforms them into the semblance of a historic relic. One of her larger pieces is a 3 foot tall Chanel bag that weighs 2,000 pounds! This sculpture is permanently exhibited at Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.

"Obsessive Compulsive" 2013 | Utah White Marble

She has held solo exhibitions at The Neuberger Museum of Art, and at Vassar College, and representations at many galleries in Europe and around the US, including two here in Florida, Gallery Biba and Art Angels.

Segal teaches Sculpture at New York Academy of Art and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She also teaches workshops at her art studio in New York.

Here's a passage from the New York Post article:

Barbara Segal’s handbags are so heavy, they would give any chiropractor a fit.

You can’t carry them around,” the Yonkers artist says, “but so many women with Birkins just stare at their bags."

They’ll say, ‘My bag is a work of art.’ Mine, too!

Segal carves her 100-pound versions of the Birkin — the iconic Hermès tote — out of stone like orange calcite. “Stone transforms it into an almost religious item of worship,” she says. “It’s turning the Birkin into a historical relic.

As for her art bags trying to convey any message about consumerism, Segal demurs. “I’m not trying to say if it’s good or bad — they’re . . . beautiful!”

"L.V.B.S." 2017 | Greek Marble
"Black Candy" 2016 | Portoro Marble

"Black Candy" 2016 |

Portoro Marble

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