Richard Serra

Richard Serra ( born November 2, 1939 in San Francisco) is one of the most important living American sculptor. The mid-1960s experiment Richard Serra and other American artists with industrial materials such as lead and rubber. The materials are processed with simple procedures and put in relating to the area. Over the years Serra expanded his spatial approach by working to this day with weather resistant steel. In addition, the artist's oeuvre includes a variety of paintings and prints.

  • 4.1 Terminal in Bochum
  • 4.2 Viewpoint in Dillingen / Saar
  • 4.3 Axis in Bielefeld
  • 4.4 Slab for the Ruhr in Essen
  • 4.5 Torque in Saarbrücken
  • 4.6 promenade in Paris
  • 4.7 images


"Basically, I want to make sculptures that stand for a new kind of experience, open up the possibilities of sculpture, which has never seen before. "

Study time

Serra studied 1957-1961 English literature at the University of California, Berkeley and then in Santa Barbara. He received his bachelors degree in English Literature. To earn his living Serra worked in a steel mill, where he gained valuable first experience in dealing with the versatile material steel, which were influential for his later career.

From 1961 to 1964 he studied art at Yale University in New Haven. There he was assistant to the German emigrants, painter and art theorist Josef Albers. This was followed by a collaboration with Josef Albers on his book The Interaction of Color. He attained a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts.

As at this time arose the minimalism, there was still a pure form of minimalism; the artist worked mainly with high-quality industrial products, materials and substances such as plastic or stainless steel. In part, the focus was on a refinement of the material. This was followed by a generation of artists, among others, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Bruce Nauman and Eva Hesse. For Serra these artists had not make the claim that art has to be use goods, it was a " Reckless expansion of minimalism ". The materials were simple such as rubber or lead. Instead of a formal language to represent that already existed in the art, these artists were more interested that the form of the material could be manipulated by a change.

Early work

Early 1960s, Serra had already employed with the new media for art film and video to. During a one year travel grant from the Yale University in Paris in 1964, he expanded his knowledge in this field. In the summer of 1965 he married his fellow student, the artist Nancy Graves. He met in Paris the American musician and composer Philip Glass. End of the 60s saw the Serra metal material for his work. He poured in 1968 in an unconventional way the corners of New York's Whitney Museum with molten lead out to then issue the plates obtained in the same house.

This was followed, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, a year in Florence. In May 1966 he had his first solo exhibition Animal Habitats in the Galeria La Salita in Rome. This was followed by trips to Spain and North Africa.

Serra moved to New York and worked with Robert Fiore, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, as well as removal, to earn his livelihood. During this time he became acquainted with other artists such as Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson and Carl Andre. He created a series of works made ​​of rubber and neon lights, and so-called scatter Pieces.

Since the early seventies, Richard Serra dealt intensively with the possibilities of printmaking; In addition to the sculptures, they are an essential part of his work.

In 1968, his series Hands, later he worked with Nancy Holt in Boomerang (1974) and with his partner this time, Joan Jonas on Paul Revere (1971 ), in which performances he played often. 1968 Serra had a solo exhibition at the Rolf Ricke Gallery in Cologne. In the late 1960s he was trying to perfect the art forms of film. He sought an analogy between the cuts in his sculptures and the cut in the film. This period also saw the collaboration with Leo Castelli started.

He often visited the Anthology Film Archives in New York and became deeply involved with the artistic forms of the historical and the current movie. He enthusiastically was, inter alia, by Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls, which facilitated him to the filmmaker, and Bruce Connors, Ron Rice's and Jack Smith's films unpretentious Art

In his early work, Richard Serra worked mostly with materials such as lead and rubber. Significant is his group of works Splashings or auditions, in which he created forms an angle between wall and floor through the spin liquid lead.

After a stay in Japan in 1970, he became deeply involved with the geometry of the courts and the system as a whole. In Tokyo the work To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram emerged and in 1972 the Spoleto -Circles about a lower steel circular object and a sunken in the ground circuit plan.

Late work

Serra's first walk- scale sculptures in public space, in which the perception of the art of direct, physical as well as physical experience is accompanied, emerged in the early 1970s. This includes, for example, the installation Circuit, which was shown at documenta-5.html">documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 and today (2012 ) is in the Art Collection of the Ruhr University in Bochum.

With Clara Weyergraf, whom he married in 1981, Serra made ​​the film Steelmill / steel plant in the Henrichshütte in Hattingen.

In 1977 he conceived for Documenta VI in Kassel the work terminal, four trapezoidal plates of weathering steel (COR -TEN - Steel ). During this exhibition the work was placed in front of the Fridericianum, the central exhibition building and thus became the " symbol " of this Documentation.

After long negotiations and accompanied by violent protests terminal was acquired by the city of Bochum in 1979 and finally installed at the location favored by Richard Serra, a traffic island at the Bochum Hauptbahnhof. The CDU made ​​in the election campaign, a campaign against the establishment in Bochum. The former candidate Kurt Biedenkopf gave a speech in which he announced the demolition right in front of the sculpture.

That same year, Serra received as part of the "Art in Architecture Program" of the U.S. General Services Administration contract for a site-specific sculpture on the " Federal Plaza " in New York. The work Tilted Arc, a 37 meters long and 3 meters high, slightly inclined steel wall, both the vision and crossing the square partially blocked or prevented, so that running past people have to deal with it formally and visually, was completed in 1981. In particular, the population anwohnende controversial discussions to have been triggered protest actions, which in 1989 resulted that the large steel sculpture had to be removed again.

In 1993 Serra in part with an object in the synagogue Stommeln at the annually changing design of the former synagogue.

In 2005, the expansive walk-in installation The Matter of Time from eight gigantic and extremely heavy steel sculptures for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was created, consisting of walk- spirals, ellipses and snake shapes. The work is one of the largest sculptural orders and probably also the most expensive, which have been developed so far in the history of modernity for a specific room.

His most recent work are the Blade Runners, rusty splendor of a steel Quadriga in Miami Beach.



  • " Unequal Corner Elevations ", 1985, Museum DKM in Duisburg ( Property: Foundation DKM, Duisburg)
  • " Weitmar ", 1984, LehmbruckMuseum, Duisburg ( Property: Foundation DKM, Duisburg)

Work (selection)

His first works were inspired by abstract expressionism. Gained fame by Richard Serra constructions of large steel cylinders and steel blocks. Reposing they emphasize the weight and nature of the material steel whose surface is exposed to untreated corrosion.

The monumental -sized sculptures, often tailored to their locations, resting in itself and emphasize the weight, combine heaviness and lightness at the same time. The perception of the sculptures is dependent on the position of the viewer and transformed by A - and cut-outs at each step. The sites for his works he chooses after the dialectical principle of " blocking and opening at the same time " from, a necessary prerequisite to almost bring the viewer " new ways of seeing".

In addition to the game with varying perspectives and their perception Serra varies the focal strength and balance as a physical problem of body and space. He goes to the question of behavior such as body as body to the surrounding and formed by them self space. Terms such as inside and outside, filled or empty space to be questioned. Serra rejects aspects of content, meaning attributions from the material. He is, among many other write-ups more or less meaningful, as the representative of the process-based art. With art-historical category terms but his work is not really to grasp.

Richard Serra took part in Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 in the Department of Individual mythologies and at the Documenta 6 (1977 ), Documenta 7 (1982) and the Documenta 8 in 1987 as an artist.

Terminal in Bochum

Serra's sculpture was a symbol of the documenta in Kassel and in 1977 bought by the city of Bochum for DM 350,000 in 1979 and situated at an intersection in front of the main train station Bochum.

Viewpoint in Dillingen / Saar

Since 1986, Serra used primarily for its heavy plate steel sculptures AG der Dillinger Hütte works, some of which are also formed in Dillingen sculptures. So it was obvious in Dillingen " Serra a " set up. As the site was chosen the roundabout at the gatehouse of Dillinger Hütte toward Saarlouis, whereby the bond between city and lodge is intended to symbolize. Viewpoint, a steel sculpture of 13 meters wide, 9 meters in height and 104 tons total weight, was opened to the public on 25 March 2006. It consists of six curved steel plates, of which three panels were joined together. Seen from above, form the two steel plates of opposing some distance arcs (similar to an opening and a closing parenthesis ( ) ) with walk-in interior. Since that day, it is called an art axis Luxembourg - Dillingen - Saarbrücken.

Axis in Bielefeld

The sculpture was erected in 1989 in front of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. It is there as part of public sculpture exhibition southwest of the main entrance.

Slab for the Ruhr in Essen

1998 saw the Slab for the Ruhr on the heap Schurenbach in eating a more well-known work Serras. The slab is visible as a landmark on top of a slag heap from afar. It consists of a 14.5 m high, 67 -ton steel plate to remind both the tradition of the steel production in the Ruhr area, as well as to the forced laborers who piled the Schurenbachhalde during the Third Reich. The Slab for the Ruhr enjoys great popularity as a tourist destination and is considered one of the landmark of the Ruhr region.

Torque in Saarbrücken

The sculpture Torque was built in 1992 on the campus of the University of Saarland in Saarbrücken.

Promenade in Paris

Richard Serra on May 7, by 15 June 2008 showed the Grand Palais in Paris, as part of the Monumenta 2008, his specially -made installation promenade. " A radical sculptural landscape of steel, minimalist yet full of movement. " Serra is by Anselm Kiefer, the second artist to be invited to fill the 13,500 m2 area of the Grand Palais with a group of new works.


  • Sculptures

Berlin Curves, steel, 1986

Slab ( for the Ruhr ), heap Schurenbach, Food

Promenade, steel, 2008 for the Grand Palais, Paris

Promenade, steel, 2008 for the Grand Palais, Paris

Promenade, steel, 2008 for the Grand Palais, Paris

Exhibitions (selection)

  • Running Arcs ( For John Cage ), Art Collection NRW, Dusseldorf 12 September, bis December 13, 1992
  • Richard Serra, Props, Wilhelm LehmbruckMuseum, MA. 16 January to 3 April 1994
  • Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra, Fondation Beyeler, Basel 2011
  • Junction and Cycle, Gagosian Gallery, Manhattan, New York City, 2011
  • Playtime, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, March 15, bis June 29, 2014 Works on: . Hand Catching Lead (1968) and Hands Scraping (1968).