richard serra: new sculpture

when i first walked through joe, the torqued spiral richard serra sculpture in the courtyard of the pulitzer foundation for the arts in st. louis, MO, where i grew up, i immediately envisioned the sculpture as an event venue, with guests walking through the ribbon of steel on their way to a party in the center.

it seems that i am not unique, because people have told richard serra about practicing yoga, or holding weddings inside his sculptures.

richard serra | joe | weathering steel | 2000 | pulitzer foundation for the arts | st. louis, MO

photo credit pulitzer foundation for the arts

serra’s sculptures explore the phenomenological experience of space.  the somatic, emotional, and intellectual feelings that you get when you are walking around, through, or beneath his massive sculptures.

while i was working in new york last week, i was visiting art galleries in chelsea.  so, i also visited the gagosian gallery, which is showing richard serra:  new sculpture from 26 october 2013-15 march 2014.  the exhibition features four monumental sculptures, which represent a new stylistic direction for richard serra.  even though the new sculptures are rectilinear, instead of curvilinear, some of the new pieces have precedents in previous pieces.

‘as sequences unfold, new forms come out of old pieces.’

-richard serra

richard serra | hours of the day | 1990 | bonnefanten museum | maastricht, netherlands

photo credit wikimedia

 richard serra | intervals | weatherproof steel | 24 plates | 2013

richard serra:  new sculpture | gagosian gallery | 555 west 24th street | new york NY | 26 october 2013-15 march 2014

photo credit rob mckeever

 like hours of the day, intervals is an installation of freestanding rectangular steel plates.  serra describes the components of intervals with mathematical precision:

‘there are 24 steel plates.

each plate is 9 inches thick.

the plates are positioned 42 inches apart.

there are 3 elevations-4, 5, and 6 feet high.

and, there are 4 lengths-5, 7, 9, and 11 feet long.’

-richard serra

the structure feels logical as you walk through the space.  yet, walking through the labyrinth is a dynamic experience.  you can enter or exit anywhere.  and, the elevations rise and fall as you weave in and out.

 richard serra | intervals | weatherproof steel | 24 plates | 2013

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

some journalists have compared the 24 steel plates in the installation to the tombstones in a cemetery, a comparison that went viral after charlie rose interviewed richard serra on the 27 december 2013 episode of charlie rose: the week.

serra disagrees with this comparison.  he considers his sculptures as dynamic, instead of static structures.  he thinks that walking through a rectilinear space, like intervals, makes you feel more grounded than walking through a curvilinear space.

intervals is serra’s expression of that experience.

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