Richard Serra

  • Kynaston McShine

    I DID NOT SEE the “Primary Structures” exhibition in 1966. I was living in Florence. Shortly after I moved to New York in 1967, a curator from MoMA, Kynaston McShine, made an appointment to visit. When he came to see me, I was somewhat astonished: white pants and shirt, red scarf, loafers, no socks, an irresistible smile, elegant, charming. I forgot to mention that he was black. Kynaston wanted to know everything about me and my work; we talked, a rapid exchange, back and forth. We hit it off immediately. Kynaston had a lightning-quick wit and sarcasm that would reduce you to silence. He was

  • Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951, oil on canvas, sixty-four joined panels, 94 1/2 × 94 1/2". © Ellsworth Kelly.

    Richard Serra

    IN 1964, I received a traveling fellowship from Yale to study painting in Paris. There I saw Phil Glass every day. He introduced me to the work of John Cage and together we would read Silence (1961) out loud. The potential for chance became for me an alternative, and I took it seriously.

    The following year I received a Fulbright to study in Florence. I began working on a painting and stretched an eight-by-eight-foot canvas. I snapped grid lines across it to form sixty-four squares, opened up thirty or forty cans of colored paint, got a stopwatch, and decided to arbitrarily fill in each square,

  • Richard Serra’s Promenade, 2008, being installed in the Grand Palais, Paris. Photo: Lorenz Kienzle.

    Richard Serra


    TECHNOLOGY IS a form of tool making (body extensions). Technology is not art—not invention. It is a simultaneous hope and hoax. It does not concern itself with the undefined, the inexplicable: It deals with the affirmation of its own making. Technology is what we do to the Black Panthers and the Vietnamese under the guise of advancement in a materialistic theology. (The names of the wars have changed.)

    Skullcracker Stacking Series, 1969, at the skull cracker yard of Kaiser Steel in Fontana, California, was erected with an overhead magnetic crane. The structures were not conceived in

  • William Rubin (right) preparing “Cézanne: The Late Work,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1977. Photo: D. Gordon/The New York Times.

    Richard Serra

    WE HAVE ALL HEARD the often-told anecdote of how Bill Rubin was able to secure from Picasso the gift of the artist’s 1912–14 sheet-metal Guitar for the Museum of Modern Art in 1971. In his memoir, Rubin describes the work as “the first of a new race of constructed—as opposed to carved or modeled—sculptures” and as “an object more radical and influential in the history of sculpture than was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in the history of painting.” As a sculptor, you gotta like this guy.

    When I think of Picasso, I think of him as a relative of sorts, as someone who is part of my mental family. I don’t


    FOLLOWING THE RELEASE OF THE INDELIBLE Abu Ghraib photographs this past spring, Richard Serra produced Stop Bush, a print that he has distributed widely both in art venues and in mainstream publications, as well as on the Internet. Serra insists that the piece is not an artwork but rather a “way to just get the message out,” a tack that inspired Artforum to invite other artists to take up the cause. Our brief was simple and open-ended: We asked fourteen artists to make an original contribution to these pages on the occasion of the American presidential election. A few, like Tom Sachs (whose


    MATERIAL, SPACE, AND COLOR are the main aspects of visual art. Everyone knows that there is material that can be picked up and sold, but no one sees space and color. Two of the main aspects of art are invisible; the basic nature of art is invisible. The integrity of visual art is not seen. The unseen nature and integrity of art, the development of its aspects, the irreducibility of thought, can be replaced by falsifications, and by verbiage about the material, itself in reality unseen. The discussion of science is scientific; the discussion of art is superstitious. There is no history.

    There has

  • Richard Serra

    WHAT I HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING in the past several weeks is fear, a fear without an object, an empty feeling, a disconnected anxiety which makes me shudder, take a deep breath, sigh involuntarily. I have been trying to understand Judd’s death, trying to deal with my incomprehension of this unexpected loss. A great sculptor has died. As an artist you measure yourself against other artists; as you grow older, you measure yourself against the people you have known who have died.

    Some inventions are more important than others, more thoughtful, more conscious, more serious, more resolute, more radical,

  • He Was a Great Editor

    PHIL LEIDER'S TENURE at Artforum corresponded with a period of transition and upheaval in the art world. The ’60s were the decade that marked the beginning of the end of Modernism. Even though Clement Greenberg was still making predictions and pronouncements in catalogues, his influence and relevance were finished. He lost his critical credibility for good when it was rumored that he wanted to spruce up some of David Smith’s sculptures, after Smith’s death, by painting them. It was also obvious by that time that Caro’s and Olitski’s sculptures and the Color Field painters were not going to carry

  • St. John’s Rotary Arc

    I HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT of the Rotary as being a turntable, a cartwheel, a bottleneck extension, a continuation and completion of the New Jersey Turnpike, a highway roundabout at the exit of the Holland Tunnel and the entrance to Manhattan, a place where cars continually turn and cross lanes in apprehension of changing directions as they enter New York coming from New Jersey a space polluted by exhaust fumes, a scene of incessant change, a hub, a place of rush hour glut, a place of disorientation (and permanent rotation) where, at various times of the day, the density of traffic screens the inner

  • Statements

    On Frame, 25 minutes, b&w, sound, 1969. Cameraman: Robert Fiore.

    PERCEPTION HAS ITS OWN abstract logic and it is often necessary to fit verbal and mathematical formulation (in this instance, measuring) to things rather than the other way around. The size, scale, and three-dimensional ambiguity of film and photographs is usually accepted as one kind of interpretation of (reality). These media fundamentally contradict the perception of the thing to which they allude. Objective physical measurement of real and physical depth coupled with apparent measurement of film depth points to the contradiction

  • “Paul Revere”

    The film is an adaptation from two sources: Kinesics and Context by Ray L. Birdwhistell, and Choreomania, a performance by Joan Jonas.

    Off-camera narration determines actions, (some direction given by cameraman)

    narration off-camera

    THE FILM YOU ARE VIEWING will demonstrate, with your attention and cooperation, aspects of an operative process in communication. A simple two-message system will be employed: The informational model of Paul Revere’s signaling light tower will be the example, that is a lone light signaling that the British are coming by land △ two lights conveying the warning that they