Richard Serra (b. 1939) is considered one of the most significant artists of our time. His abstract, often site-specific, sculptures and installations have sold at auction for millions of dollars. He has worked with Larry Gagosian since 1983 and he is currently showing four installations at Gagosian’s 24th Street space in New York.
I recall seeing Serra’s work at Gagosian’s Britannia Street gallery near King’s Cross station in London, when I was still living there in the early years of this millennium. Walking towards ‘Every Which Way’, I recognise the feeling I had back then: I really just want to get close and touch these beautiful, cold slabs of steel. A quick scan around the gallery reveals at least three security guards in close proximity so I reluctantly suppress the impulse. It is impossible not to be drawn to these gigantic monoliths. Their sheer physicality is overwhelming: the gallery walls were literally taken apart and rebuilt around them.
By their very nature Serra’s Minimalist installations invite the viewer to participate in a dialogue; to have a relationship with the work on a more elemental level than to merely consume it. By purposely omitting narrative and emotion, Serra leaves us no choice but to ponder space, time and spirituality instead of trying to interpret the meaning of his work. Go see it if you can.
The exhibition, Above Below Betwixt Between, Every Which Way, Silence (For John Cage), Through, is on view through 22 October 2016 at Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011.