Richard Serra is one of those contemporary artists who are either loved without question or wholly misunderstood for their minimalism. Serra, a graduate of Yale University gained world-wide recognition for his monumental COR-TEN sculptures that envelope and wrap themselves around us. So how does one approach a Richard Serra Torqued Ellipse or a Torqued Sphere? The answer is much more simple than you think – Serra prefers that you look at his work as something that “shapes space” as you move through it, rather than something to be viewed as a stand-alone work. Travel through it, interact with it, stop, look around, turn around, walk back, look up, look down, stand with your back to one wall and then the other – basically change your position inside his space.
Think about how your own size changes in relation to the 16-foot tall walls of curved steel? How the ground expands while the “sky” above you narrows to a slit. And here is another thing – while steel is something you don’t really consider to relate to nature – those of you who have ever been to Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona will feel a sense of familiarity when walking through a Serra sculpture. There is something very natural and fluid about this cold and inflexible material. Look at the steel walls and you’ll think they are about to tip over, but the ingenuity of Serra’s work really lies in the balance he achieves by calculating the exact angle of each portion of the sculpture.
Richard Serra’s works on paper were part of the special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
See how other contemporary artists draw inspiration from Serra’s meditative works.
Richard Serra, Band, 2006, Weatherproof steel, 12′ 9″ x 36′ 5″ x 71′ 9 1/2″, plate: 2″, Collection of the artist, © 2007 Richard Serra.
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