Richard Serra
USA, 1939
The son of an emigrant from Mallorca, Serra simultaneously began to study English Literature at Berkeley University and to work at a foundry in 1957. Just under a decade later, in 1966, he had his first sculpture exhibition at a small gallery in Rome. Linked to the origins of Minimalism, his work soon "opened up" to a broader concept than that of "object" and engaged in the production of site specific pieces, whether in cities, natural settings or even interiors. They were pieces that required the spectator's locomotion and physical sensuality while linking up with the discourse between architecture and sculpture and criticising it at the same time. "In that way," wrote the historian Hal Foster, "a new formulation as a link between location and subject which (re)defines the topology of a place through the motivation of a spectator was born." Over the next thirty years -we should recall that one of his first works was a list of transitive verbs about what could be "done" in sculpture: "roll/fold/accumulate"-, his attitude has reconciled a metaphorical or allegorical minimum with a maximum public commitment of sculpture, given off by the potency, intensity and grandeur of his pieces, which have renewed the language of the discipline while often exposing the double reality and censorship inherent to public discourse and the economic forces on which artistic production depends. In 1989, the destruction of his sculpture Tilted Arc, 1987, was one of the most flagrant attacks on a work of art from official circles. The General Services Administration, the owners of the gigantic sculpture which redefined Federal Office Plaza in Manhattan and emphasised the accessory character of the civil servants who worked in the building beside it, exercised their right of ownership and, with the blessing of the judges and total contempt for the artist's intellectual copyright, proceeded to dismantle it and cut it into pieces. The exhibition in 1999 in the Sala Pez at the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao of the eight gigantic sculptures from the series "Torqued Ellipses" completed up to that date ratified the exceptional place occupied by their author, Richard Serra, in contemporary sculpture.
Mariano Navarro