PRINT April 2016

Richard Serra

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

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, one every two minutes. There was a lot of unnecessary busy brushwork and the edges were not that tight. I was apprehensive but interested in pursuing the problem.

The day after I finished my painting, I went to the American Cultural Center to look at the latest art periodicals and saw a photo

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