Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Richard Serra, the Steel man

Richard Serra was born on November 2nd, 1939 (will be 72 soon), in San Francisco. He is a minimalist sculptor and video artist. His work is large and normally made of steel metal (metal formed into thin and flat pieces).

Serra studied English Literature in the University of California, in Berkley, and helped support himself by working on steel mills, which became a strong influence for his work. He then studied Painting at Yale University and continued his training abroad..  He lived in Paris, Florence, Rome - and since then has been living between Tribeca, New York City and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.


Serra's first sculptures were made out of non traditional materials such as fiber, glass and rubber - very abstract. (Circa 1966).

In 1981, "Tilted Arc", 3.5 meter high arc of rusting mild steel in the Federal Plaza in NY. In 1985, a public hearing voted that the work should be removed and Serra replied with "To remove the work is to destroy it", but there was no turning back.

Serra made a lot of films concerning his favorite material, the steel.

Hand Catching Lead (1968)

:: Serra's first film, a single shot of a hand in an attempt to repeatedly catch chunks of lead dropped from the top of the frame. 

Boomerang (1974)

:: Serra taped Nancy Holt as she talks and hears her words played back to her after they have been delayed electronically.

Serra also drawed and painted, using various techniques. I believe some of his drawings are currently being displayed at the MoMA and at the Dia Art Foundation, and I'm looking forward in checking it out tomorrow!

The Art Market:

The record auction price for a Serra sculpture was paid at Sotheby's in NY in 2008, a work consisting of 3 steel plates, sold for $1.65 million!

"When I first started, what was very very important to me was dealing with the nature of process."

* Serra has been acclaimed for his challenging and innovative work, which highlights the process of its fabrication, the qualities of its materials, and the engagement with the audience. Viewers were encouraged to move around, through, under, so they could meet different perspectives of its physicality and to create awareness of its size.

"Steel becomes something other than Steel."

"Work out on your work, don't work out on anybody else's work."

A friend of mine saw Serra yesterday at Strand Book Store. Maybe I should shop there more often! Can't wait to see his work, live.

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