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b. 1938, USA

Richard Serra Biography

New York and Nova Scotia-based American Minimalist artist Richard Serra is best known for his large, site-specific steel sculptures. These monumental Minimalist constructions, typically comprised of self-supporting, shaped and angled corten steel plates, can be found in art institutions and public spaces across the globe—from France to New Zealand. His work, spanning a more-than-50-year career, challenges sculptural conventions of scale, material, and subject matter, while forcing the viewer to reflect on their perceptions of gravity, bodily alignment, and planar space. Serra also produces dark drawings of ink, paint and oil stick on paper and canvas, and prints. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he also made experimental films and videos.

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Working towards a BA in English literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Serra developed an early interest in industrial materials while working in steel mills. Studying for a BFA and MFA at Yale from 1961 to 1964, he came under the influence of Philip Guston, Josef Albers, and Morton Feldman, and interacted with other ground-breaking artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella. This—and two consecutive trips to Europe in 1965 and 1966—undoubtedly influenced the Minimalist nature of his work.

Serra's first solo exhibition was at Galleria La Salita, Rome, in 1966, towards the end of a European tour funded by a Fulbright grant. His first sculptures from the mid-1960s were made out of rubber, fibreglass, and other non-traditional materials. However, the earliest works with the industrial metals he is known for came in the form of the process-based series 'Splash' (1968–1970), where the artist hurled molten lead at the points in gallery spaces where the walls meet the floors, where it cooled to create new forms. Serra's performance of this work during his exhibition at the Leo Castelli Warehouse in 1969 marked his official debut in the New York art scene.

Serra's 'Prop' pieces in the late 1960s, in which rolls of lead and sheets of other metals were arranged in configurations held together only by gravity, were precursors to the increasingly large-scale public work that developed when in the 1970s he turned his attention outdoors.

Moving out of the gallery space Serra began creating monumental sculptures in the form of long, curving, horizontal or tall, and seemingly precarious (but partially buried) continuous steel sheets. Serra's works from the 1970s onward responded to, but jarringly altered, the landscapes and urban public places in which they were installed.

In the 1980s, as Serra's large-scale works were being taken to new heights and becoming commonplace across Europe, he encountered controversy in the United States with the installation of Tilted Arc (1981), a 3.7-metre-high, rusted corten steel arc crossing New York's Foley Federal Plaza. Disputes between the civic authorities, the public, and the artist resulted in its dismantlement in 1989, and carried on after. Since the early 1990s, Serra's work has taken new forms such as the open-but-enveloping 'Torqued Ellipse', and solid steel 'Rounds'.

Serra continues to show his drawings and monumental sculptural installations in galleries around the world. Gagosian, which has represented the artist for 30 years, has chosen gallery spaces with Serra's preferred scale in mind. Several museums—from the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—permanently exhibit his large-scale sculptures.

Serra's distinctive works have been celebrated with two retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art, New YorkRichard Serra/sculpture (1986) and Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years (2007). The artist has also received a great many accolades and medals, including the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 2001 Venice Biennale, a knighthood in the National Order of the Legion of Honour in France (2015), and the J. Paul Getty Medal (2018).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019

Richard Serra Featured Artworks

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Leo by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraLeo, 1998Etching with aquatint on Somerset textured paper
27 1/4 x 37 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery Contact Gallery
Bight 6 by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraBight 6, 2011Etching
68.5 x 56 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Right Angle III by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraRight Angle III, 2019Paintstick and silica
81 x 86 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Diptych #8 by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraDiptych #8, 2019Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two sheets of handmade paper
47 1/2 x 62 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Diptych #10 by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraDiptych #10, 2019Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two sheets of handmade paper
47 3/8 x 62 5/8 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Orchard Street #12 by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraOrchard Street #12, 2018Etching ink and silica on handmade paper
47 1/4 x 31 3/4 inches
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Inside Out by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraInside Out, 2013Weatherproof steel
401.3 x 2494.3 x 1225.6 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Intervals by Richard Serra contemporary artwork
Richard SerraIntervals, 2013Weatherproof steel
182.9 x 853.4 x 1447.8 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery

Richard Serra Recent Exhibitions

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Richard Serra Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian New York, Athens, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong

Richard Serra In Ocula Magazine

Richard Serra In Related Press

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The Art of Perception: Richard Serra's Films Related Press The Art of Perception: Richard Serra's Films 30 October 2019, Gagosian Quarterly

Most of Serra 's early film work focuses on tasks in short bursts: a hand catches lead, two hands untie themselves from a rope bind, two pairs of hands pick up lead filings, Tina turns. The length of time it takes to complete a task is based on elements that are hard to quantify but solid enough that one can expect an endpoint (two or three...

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LOOSE CANON Related Press LOOSE CANON 21 October 2019, ARTFORUM

IN JUNE, NEW YORK'S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a 'deeper experience of art' across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its...

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New York's MoMA unveils $450m expansion and 'remix' of collection Related Press New York's MoMA unveils $450m expansion and 'remix' of collection 10 October 2019, The Guardian

New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) unveiled its new $450m expansion on Thursday in a revamp of the gallery – including a radical "remix" of its permanent collection, which will see famous works exhibited alongside those of lesser-known artists. The popular Manhattan museum, which attracts 3 million visitors a year, has been closed...

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ArtSeen Richard Serra Related Press ArtSeen Richard Serra 2 October 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

Sculptors have always had it tough. Any unique instance of exploratory form in three-dimensions ultimately can't compete with the diverse world of objects and the inexorable gravity that pressurizes it all into our consciousness. Historical ways to outwit this "outside" pressure have ranged from twisting an animated mimesis from the...

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