09.19 Richard Serra MoMA Retrospective
Richard Serra works big.
Like, some people work big on canvas. Pollock worked big on canvas. Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five feet--these were common horizontals. The more splatters the better, I suppose.
Dick Serra doesn't mess about with canvases. Or hasn't for some time, anyways. Dick Serra likes steel. Some artists dig on acrylics, polymers, oils; Serra digs on untreated Cor-Ten steel. And despite the fact that he likely has teams of lemmings working no-break shifts on the massive sheet-metal sculptures, you aren't really supposed to acknowledge that when you walk through a structure that literally weighs in at some 320,000 lbs. Instead, the illusion is upheld for several seconds that Richard Serra built the entire thing by his lonesome.
That may, in fact, be partially why the sculptures currently on display at the MoMA are so stunning. Not only because they are towering masses of curvaceous, beautifully-patinated metal; but because they are connected to just one name, and read as the handiwork of the one man behind that name. That is, of course, until logic takes over and one acknowledges that no single being could build such a thing, let alone move it onto the third floor of a museum in midtown Manhattan.
The Serra retrospective, which goes down at the Museum of Modern Art through September 24th, showcases five of the artist's large-scale steel works and is, by all accounts [including my own], incredible. Trite though it may sound to say that pictures can't begin to do the work justice, hackneyed arts-related statements such as this are altogether applicable to the exhibition.
The weathered steel of the sculptures is a perfect orange [see slide number six, to the left]; the backdrops of immaculate whites [interior galleries] and metropolitan grays [exterior courtyards] prove to be almost otherworldly in their juxtapositions . . . beautiful and really weird simultaneously.
If this writing possesses any power whatsoever, go see the exhibition in the next five days. Go get dizzy from the curves and the scale of the things. Go get weirded out by looking up at the New York skyline from the courtyard of one of the best modern and contemporary art museums in the world. The view upwards is awe-inspiring . . . the foreground: a portion of stunning sculpture from a prolific artist, the background: a pastiche of the architectural styles that define one of the most dynamic cities on the earth.
If, for some insane reason, you end up missing the show, there is a newly-published monograph put out by the museum that does as best a job as a book can in conveying the magnitude of Serra's projects; viewing the well-constructed tome should be your backup plan.
You have five days. Hop to it.