Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years

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Richard Serra
(American, born 1939)

Richard Serra. Prop. 1968

(American, born 1938) Lead Plate: 60 × 60 × 1/8″ (152.4 × 152.4 × 0.3 cm), pole: 8′ (2.4 m) long. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Gift of the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc. Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

RICHARD SERRA: This room is entirely lead.

At one point In the 60s, I had written down a series of verbs, and was just enacting these verbs. And one of the verbs was "to roll." And I found myself rolling either a single roll or a double roll or a triple roll. And then we had pieces of lead that were remnants we had cut off a sheet.

And I thought, 'what if I took a flat sheet of lead, and tried to hold it against the wall by the force of a rolled pole. Would it hold? I wasn't sure if I could do it.

So we hoisted the flat plate up, and then we lowered the pole against the plate, and low and behold, it held. And that piece enabled me to think about the possibility of doing other pieces against the wall.

This whole room is about the very fundamentals of building process, how something is held up in relation to something else, either with weight overhead pressing down, or with compression of one plate against the other. These pieces are truly balanced.