Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years

Richard Serra
(American, born 1939)

Richard Serra. Band. 2006

(American, born 1938) Weatherproof steel, overall: 12′ 9″ × 36′ 5″ × 71′ 9 1/2″ (3.9 × 11.1 × 21.9 m), plate: 2″ (5.1 cm) thick. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Gift of Eli and Edythe Broad Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

NARRATOR: The three Serra sculptures in this gallery were conceived and built for this room. They were brought in through a 40’ door that opens onto the empty lot next to the museum and each weighs between 100 and 200 tons. This one, called Band, snakes horizontally for more than 70 feet.

RICHARD SERRA: It unfolds its a new template. It has nothing to do with any of the pieces that have come before, It's a totally different vocabulary.

I'd like you to walk the entire piece. You can walk inside and outside continuously if you like, and never stop. There are four volumes, and they move in and out, and the piece moves in and out. There's a shift between inside and outside that seems continuous. And there's some spaces when you go into, you think you've been in before, but you realize you haven't. And you sense that they're similar, but they're all dissimilar. It's difficult to tell one space from the other. The entire sheet of steel, as it undulates through the space, changes continuously. And its interior/exterior is continually exchanging.

Serra says that the sculpture creates new spaces within the architecture of the room.

RICHARD SERRA: Look. If this room were empty, it's like a field of space bounded by these walls. But then when you walk into a piece like this, you're just dealing with a sculptural volume, not the volume of the architecture of this room.

Serra worked out Band in a series of inch-to-a-foot scale lead models.

RICHARD SERRA: I built Band in models for about three years, and then I built it in a steel mill, and then I went to look at it and it was definitely a new experience. And I didn't know what to make of it for a couple of days. It wasn't a question of quality. I didn't understand the space of it. And that surprised me.

NARRATOR: Finally, Serra felt he had a grasp this sculpture and its newly created form.

RICHARD SERRA: I thought it was better than I thought it was. If you're looking at 40 years of work, you make distinctions, and I think this is as interesting as anything else in the show.

NARRATOR: Serra was asked if Band would lead him in new directions.

RICHARD SERRA: I think it already has. Yeah.

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