Obsession is what it comes down to. It is difficult to think without obsession, and it is impossible to create something without a foundation that is rigorous, incontrovertible, and, in fact, to some degree repetitive. Repetition is the ritual of obsession. Repetition is a way to jumpstart the indecision of beginning. To persevere and to begin over and over again is to continue the obsession with work. Work comes out of work. In order to work you must already be working.
One of the most significant artists of his generation, he has produced large-scale, site-specific sculptures for architectural, urban, and landscape settings spanning the globe, from Iceland to New Zealand.
Born in 1938 in San Francisco, Richard Serra lives and works in New York and on the North Fork of Long Island. Serra attended the University of California, Berkeley before transferring to the University of California, Santa Barbara graduating with a BA in English literature; he then studied painting at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut completing both a BFA and MFA. He began showing with Leo Castelli in 1968, and his first solo exhibition in New York was held at the Leo Castelli Warehouse the following year. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum, California, in 1970.
Serra’s sculptures and drawings have been celebrated with two retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, twenty years apart: Richard Serra/Sculpture (1986) and Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years (2007). He has had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1977–78); Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany (1978); Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (1978); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (1980, 2014, and 2017); Centre Pompidou, Paris (1983–84); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (1985); Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk, Denmark (1986); Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, Germany (1987); Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (1987); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (1988); Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands (1990); Kunsthaus Zürich (1990); CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France (1990); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1992); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (1992); Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1997); Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro (1997–98); Trajan’s Market, Rome (1999–2000); Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis (2003); and Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, Italy (2004).
In 2005 The Matter of Time (1994–2005), a series of eight large-scale works, was installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain. For Monumenta 2008, the major site-specific installation Promenade was shown at the Grand Palais, Paris. Three years later the large-scale, site-specific sculpture 7 was permanently installed opposite the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. A major traveling retrospective dedicated to Serra’s drawings was presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Menil Collection, Houston (the organizing venue), from 2011 to 2012.
In 2014 the Qatar Museums Authority presented a two-venue retrospective survey of Serra’s work, and East-West/West-East (2014) was permanently installed in the Brouq Nature Reserve, Zekreet, Qatar. In 2017 the Museum Wiesbaden, Germany, presented Richard Serra: Props, Films, Early Works; an overview of Serra’s work in film and video was shown at the Kunstmuseum Basel; and recent drawings were featured at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Serra has participated in numerous major international exhibitions, including Documenta (1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987), and the Biennale di Venezia (1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013), and his work has been included in many Whitney Annuals and Biennials (1968, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1995, and 2006). He is the recipient of the Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2001); Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, Federal Republic of Germany (2002); Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España, Spain (2008); President’s Medal, Architectural League of New York (2014); Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Republic of France (2015); and J. Paul Getty Medal (2018).
Since 1983 Gagosian has presented more than thirty solo exhibitions of Serra’s work in the US and Europe.
Extended through January 11, 2020
September 17, 2019–January 11, 2020
555 West 24th Street, New York
September 17, 2019–February 1, 2020
West 21st Street, New York
Triptychs and Diptychs
September 16–November 2, 2019
980 Madison Avenue, New York
April 6–May 25, 2018
Grosvenor Hill, London
Extended through April 13, 2017
NJ-2, Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, Rotate
October 1, 2016–April 13, 2017
Britannia Street, London
September 15–December 17, 2016
Davies Street, London
May 7–July 29, 2016
West 21st Street, New York
Extended through October 22, 2016
Above Below Betwixt Between, Every Which Way, Silence (For John Cage), Through
May 7–October 22, 2016
555 West 24th Street, New York
The Art of Perception: Richard Serra’s Films
For eleven years, from 1968 to 1979, Richard Serra created a collection of films and videos that felt out the uncharted phenomenological boundaries of the medium. Carlos Valladares explores a selection of these works.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Intimate Grandeur: Glenstone Museum
Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Set amid 230 acres of pristine landscape and housing a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, this graceful complex of pavilions, designed by architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, opened to the public in the fall of 2018.
The Films and Videos of Richard Serra
January 23–March 5, 2020
Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Over three evenings—January 23, February 20, and March 5—Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center, in collaboration with Gagosian, will screen Richard Serra’s films and videos, drawn from the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Anthology Film Archives, New York; and the artist Joan Jonas. Chrissie Iles, curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, will introduce the presentation on February 20, which will be followed by a post-screening discussion between Iles and Joanna Fiduccia from Yale’s Department of the History of Art. Fiduccia will introduce the screening on March 5. The event is free and open to the public.
Richard Serra and Clara Weyergraf, Steelmill/Stahlwerk, 1979 (still), Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2020 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Films and Videos of Richard Serra
January 27–February 9, 2020
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Over four evenings—January 27 and February 3, 7, and 9—Harvard Film Archive will screen Richard Serra’s films and videos, drawn from the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Anthology Film Archives; and Joan Jonas. Benjamin Buchloh will introduce the screening on Monday, January 27. To attend the event, purchase tickets at the box office. The box office opens forty-five minutes prior to the screening time.
Richard Serra, Hands Tied, 1968 (still), Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2020 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Music in Conversation with Reverse Curve
Saturday, December 14, 2019, 8pm
Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York
Join Gagosian for a concert featuring new music inspired by Richard Serra’s Reverse Curve (2005/19) and other works that engage with questions of weight, timbre, volume, and form. Some of the compositions will test the acoustical properties of the sculpture within the room, while others will produce sound masses in the shadow of the sculpture, creating dialogues between sound and space. The range of musical strategies will illustrate a historical path from the 1970s through the present day. Musicians Lea Bertucci, Miguel Frasconi, Joan La Barbara, Chris McIntyre, Chris Nappi, and Danny Tunick are all major players in the world of experimental music and collaborate in addition to their solo projects. As well as their own compositions they will perform a 1973 piece by Michael Byron. The event has reached capacity.
Richard Serra, Reverse Curve, 2005/19 © 2019 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Cristiano Mascaro
Praying for Time
March 2–July 8, 2018
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
Marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the attacks of September 11, and civil war, the end of the twentieth century can also be viewed as a time that presaged immense global revolutions, both social and digital, that have transformed our world. Praying for Time reflects the diversity of voices and concerns in art produced during that pivotal period from 1980 through the early 2000s. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Ellen Gallagher, Richard Prince, Richard Serra, and Andy Warhol is included.
Ellen Gallagher, Untitled (10), 2000 © Ellen Gallagher
We Are Here
August 19, 2017–April 1, 2018
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
In honor of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s fiftieth anniversary, the museum presents We Are Here, a three-part exhibition drawn from its collection. I Am You gathers works that question how we relate to and shape our environments; You Are Here examines how the role of the viewer has changed over time; and We Are Everywhere showcases artists who borrow from popular culture. Work by Richard Artschwager, Francis Bacon, Chris Burden, Ellen Gallagher, Andreas Gursky, Michael Heizer, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Rudolf Stingel, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986 © Jeff Koons.
Photo by Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
Proof of Life
May 19, 2017–February 25, 2018
Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany
Proof of Life brings together one hundred paintings, sculptures, and photographic works that investigate existential questions in a manner both palpable and profound. Work by Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Anselm Kiefer, Sterling Ruby, and Richard Serra is included.
Installation view, Proof of Life, Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany, May 19, 2017–February 25, 2018. Photo: Björn Behrens
Films and Videotapes
May 20–October 15, 2017
The exhibition turns the focus on Serra’s films and videotapes. Between 1968 and 1979, the artist produced fifteen films and videos. This is the first exhibition to present almost all that material, which runs to just over five hours, in the original formats.
Film still from Richard Serra, Robert Bell, and Carlota Schoolman’s Prisoner’s Dilemma (1974)