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Richard Serra

Artist 277

Richard Serra



Richard Serra (born 1938) is an American artist who specializes in large site specific metal sculptures.

He is known in part for his minimalist constructions of large rolls and sheets of metal. Many of these pieces are self-supporting and emphasize the weight and nature of the materials. The rolls of lead are designed to sag over time.

Around 1970, Serra shifted his focus to the outdoors, focusing on large-scale site-specific sculpture. These dwarfs the observer.

They challenge viewers' perception of their bodies in relation to interior spaces and landscapes, and his work often encourages movement in and around his sculptures.

He wishes to emphasis or alter viewers' perceptions of space and proportion. “It's all about centralizing the space in different ways. How people move in relation to space, that's essentially what I'm up to,” Serra explains.

Inspired early in his career by modern dance and Japanese Zen gardens, the artist seeks to create works that engage viewers in movement. His large-scale sheet-metal pieces almost navigate the space around them.

He says of his inspiration from modern dance, “The dancers were the real radicals. They taught me more about space and movement and gravity.”

Serra has been called “cerebral, single-minded, austere, as steely and uncompromising as his work.”

The steel pieces he uses are fabricated in Wetzlar, Germany. The steel he uses takes about 8–10 years to develop its characteristic dark, even patina of rust. Once the surface is fully oxidized, the color will remain relatively stable over the piece's life.

He creates these large-scale steel structures for sites throughout the world, and has become particularly renowned for his monumental arcs, spirals, and ellipses, which engage the viewer in an altered experience of space.

“Obsession is what it comes down to. It is difficult to think without obsession, and it is impossible to create something without a foundation that is rigorous, incontrovertible, and, in fact, to some degree repetitive. Repetition is the ritual of obsession. Repetition is a way to jumpstart the indecision of beginning. To persevere and to begin over and over again is to continue the obsession with work. Work comes out of work. In order to work you must already be working.” - Richard Serra

Sources consulted


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