Serra, Richard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Serra, Richard

Richard Serra, 1939–, American sculptor, b. San Francisco; grad. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (B.A., 1961), Yale (B.F.A., M.F.A., 1974). Many of his early works (1960s) are cast in rubber or lead. Later, using metals, concrete, fiberglass, and other materials, he created large-scale abstract sculptures that were usually intended for specific outdoor sites. His Tilted Arc (1981) achieved notoriety when nearby office workers demanded its removal from a site in lower Manhattan. Perceived as menacing, the elegant 120-ft (37-m) curving sheet of rusting steel was dismantled in 1989. In the ensuing years Serra's huge, curved, torqued, space-enclosing, and space-defining steel sculptures, best experienced not by simply looking at them, but by wandering through and around them, have become extremely popular and are widely thought to be among the most significant abstract sculptures of the late 20th and early 21st cent. His pieces are included in many major museum collections; an eight-part, more than 430-ft-long (131-m) assemblage of his massive, rust-patinated steel sculpture was permanently installed (2005) at the Guggenheim Museum's Bilbao branch.

See Richard Serra: Writings/Interviews (1994); C. Weyergraf-Serra and M. Buskirk, ed., The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents (1991); K. McShine et al., Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years (2007); studies by R. Krauss (1986) and H. Foster, ed. (2000).

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