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Richard Serra

Richard Serra (b. 1939, San Francisco, CA – d. 2024, Orient, NY) was one of the world’s best known post-minimalist sculptors and was essential to the Process Art movement.  Famous for his massive yet simple constructions made of industrial materials, typically Cor-ten steel, his innovative approach to sculpture emphasizes weight, materiality, time, and  the relationship between the viewer and the work or site. Serra is also well-known for his prints, which he began making in 1972. He worked primarily with ink, charcoal, and lithographic crayon before focusing on the paintstick, which allows for him to similarly convey a sense of weight and instability rendered in his sculpture.

Serra’s printed oeuvre demonstrates a consistent dedication to innovation. His prints distinguish themselves in that they offer no self-contained image, but an impression of tension that seeps out of the seriality of his geometric shapes. With a background predominantly in sculpture, the appeal of printmaking was tied to the challenges with which it came. With over 200 prints completed, Serra has spent his career grasping and exhausting the technical and formal possibilities of printmaking. Serra systematically took up his experiences with sculpture and drawing and applied them to prints, which in turn spark new artistic experiences through the exploration of printing techniques that often go beyond conventional boundaries. To create his paintstick drawings, for example, Serra spreads melted paintsticks on a work table, covers it with mesh screen, and places sheets of paper face down, pressing the liquefied medium onto the paper using a stylus.

Born in San Francisco, CA, Serra graduated from Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture in 1964, and moved to New York in 1966, where he began experimenting with various sculptural materials.  As a sculptor, he is best known for his free-standing works made from sheets or large rolls of metal, which are often site-specific. A well known example is Snake (1994-7), comprised of three curving sheets of steel that wind through the largest gallery in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.

Serra’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including theArt Institute of Chicago, IL; Centre Pompidou, FR; Dallas Museum of Art, TX;  Detroit Institute of Art, MI; Fondation Beyeler, CH; Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; Harvard University Art Museum, MA; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; Metropolitan Museum, NY; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA.; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Nasher Sculpture Center, TX; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, MO; Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar; San Francisco Museum of Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Tate Gallery, UK; Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT.

Serra has most recently been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018), Menil Collection (2017), Museum Kunstpalast (2017), Art Gallery of New South Wales (2016), MoMA PS1 (2016), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016), Kunstmuseum Basel (2016), National Gallery of Art (2016), Fondation Beyeler (2015), Whitney Museum of American Art (2015), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015), Cleveland Museum of Art (2015), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2014), Qatar Museum Authority (2014) and the Saint Louis Art Museum (2014).

In 2007, Serra was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which featured Intersection II (1992-3) and Torqued Ellipse IV (1998) two of his best known works, as well as new, site-specific installations. Serra’s Torqued Ellipses are also permanently installed at Dia: Beacon in New York.
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