Richard Serra Prints
“Everything we choose in life for its lightness soon reveals its unbearable weight”- Richard Serra
This eminent American sculptor was born in San Francisco, in November 1938. Born into a family of 3 boys, to a mother who was Russian Jewish and a father who was Spanish, his childhood days were confined to his little home, without much knowledge of the outside world. His first spark, the inspiration for his later works, came when he went to the shipyard where his father worked. Seeing the huge steel structures float effortlessly on water, inculcated in him, the awe for the metal and his interest to explore with its properties. His interest to draw, according to him, helped his imagination and lead to his realization of his artistic talents.
Serra graduated with a B.A in English Literature from the University of California, while simultaneously working at a steel mill to support his expenses. His days at the steel mill had a big influence on his works later. Serra went on to complete his bachelors and masters in Fine Arts at the Yale University. His days at Yale and his encounters with the several artists there also inspired most of his works.
The year 1966 saw Serra’s first sculpture. He chose to use rubber and fiberglass; that made him stand out. Most of his notable works between 1968 and 1970, involved the use of molten lead. Slowly growing his work, around 1970, he began his outdoor sculptures which were site specific and involved the viewer’s movement in and out and all around the sculpture. Serra, before executing his large scale masterpieces, made miniature scaled versions with steel plates or lead. Then with help from structural engineers, he went on to decide how to make the pieces so as to maintain the stability of the whole structure.
Serra took abstract sculpture to the next level. The contemporary art form where a human body was not part of the painting or sculpture was taken forward by Serra, who made his minimalist sculptures in a way they connected with the viewers and gave them the experience of weight, agility and gravity. He was not satisfied with art being confined to two dimensions. Art from being a mere treat for the sight, was transformed slowly into a whole new somatic experience for the viewers. According to Serra, art is to be a part of life than being confined to museum spaces. This perception of his inspired his many site specific works.
Few of his famous works are, Tilted Arc, Torqued Ellipse, Fulcrum, Corner Prop, among the many more. Most of his works were initially not accepted by many. Like the Tilted Arc for instance, blocking the direct entry to Federal Plaza, forcing people to walk around it, was not accepted initially. According to Serra, people were not ready to accept it because of the hesitance to accept any detour from the usual route, which according to him was the problem in modern days.
Serra is, no doubt, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. The University of California began an art program for the public, inspired by Serra’s works.
Richard Serra lives in Tribeca, New York and on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
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