Feature Artist: Richard Serra
By Sophie Wallace
“What interests me is the opportunity for all of us to become something different from what we are, by constructing spaces that contribute something to the experience of who we are.” –Richard Serra
David Zwirner New York is currently exhibiting a new major installation in forged weatherproof steel by Richard Serra. Entitled Equal, the installation comprises a series of paired stacked cubes. Weighing at forty-tonnes each, the gallery was required to engage hydraulic gantries, bridge rollers and cranes to install them. David Zwirner, who was concerned about the weight of the steel cracking the gallery’s cement floor, had a sculptural on-ramp installed for the duration of the show, which acts as a bridge to lift the weight of the sculptures from the foundations.
Serra, who has been working with sculpture for more than thirty years, was prompted to consider “ways of relating movement to material and space” after watching contemporary dancers as a young artist in New York in the late 1960s. His series, Torqued Ellipses, on long-term view at Dia:Beacon, continues the artist’s exploration of movement and space through sculpture. Weighing at over twenty-tonnes each, the two-inch thick rolled steel plates spiral inwards, so that the viewer is taken on a journey towards the centre of each piece, confronted with a dramatic tension between one’s bodily awareness and one’s vision. Comprised of sixteen-foot sheets of steel—the maximum size available—there were only two rollers in existence that could execute the task of producing the sculptures.
New Zealand is fortunate to have been graced with Richard Serra’s presence by virtue of his Te Tuhirangi Contour installation at Gibbs Farm. The large-scale site-specific sculpture contains 56 Corten steel plates that follow a single contour line across the landscape.
Richard Serra was born in San Francisco in 1938. Serra’s first solo exhibition was held at the Galleria La Salita, Rome in 1966. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1970. Since then, Serra’s work has been the subject of multiple solo exhibitions across the world. In 2005, the Guggenheim Museum Bibao permanently installed eight large-scale works by Serra and in 2007, the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented a major retrospective of his work.
Richard Serra: Equal is on view at 537 West 20th Street, New York through the 24th of July.
Thank you to Sophie Wallace, who is based in New York, for providing this article for the Contemporary Benefactors.