Serra at Gagosian : Paper becomes Sculpture

When I saw the invite, I was excited. I knew Richard Serra’s work well from the days of studying Art History, and also working at DIA Beacon where his behemoth steel sculptures fill an entire wing of the museum. He is a megastar in the art world, and when I saw the exhibition announced of his recent drawings, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to experience it. The question I was curious to know the answer to was, how would his giant forged conceptual ideas I knew and loved translate to paper?

Walking into an exhibition space on Madison Avenue is a special kind of New York moment. Going into the doors, onto the elevator with sharply dressed art lovers, and taking those first steps into the white walled space is a sensational treat that has the signature of Manhattan written all over it.

I was immediately struck with the work, which at first seemed like clean geometric lines, were actually intensely textured and imperfect forms hanging in a perfectly composed space. They were not paintings on a wall, but instead works that framed the room, and all of its inhabitants. I felt the pieces on the wall defined the space in a way I had never experienced before, and it dawned upon me that indeed this was crossing the boundary between two-dimensional art into three-dimenhtioal sculpture, and defining the space just by being in it.

The people buzzed around the gallery space in a very uplifting way, and when dealing with monoliths of black and white, heavy visual objects, there is a fine line between uplifting and ominous. Richard Serra seems to have found the sweet spot of full presence and light of being.

I would love to view the exhibit again in a setting of solitude, to feel the balance of the art within the space and myself, as being there in a crowd almost held up a strong wall of protection from the forms. Perhaps with less people the shapes could inherit the consciousness even deeper. But then again Serra works in a medium that lends itself to crowd viewing, perhaps for our own good, as not to fall into the deepness that is ever present in his work and in our minds.

Be sure to check out the exhibit, on view until November 2, 2019 at Gagosian New York, 980 Madison Avenue, and share with me your thoughts @JLDello on Instagram.

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