Richard Serra is among the leading artists of his generation. Known for his large-scale, site-specific sculptures, the artist has consistently produced drawings throughout his decades long career. Since 1971, the artist has employed black paintstick (compressed oil paint, wax, and pigment) to produce drawings that resolutely defy any metaphorical or emotive associations, yet which manifest the notions of time, materiality, and process that characterize his work.
On view at David Zwirner will be new drawings originating in works that were first presented in Serra’s 2017 exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Describing the process by which these works are made, Neil Cox notes, “Serra spreads his material, which might include one or more types of black [paintstick, etching ink, and silica] onto a table. A sheet of robust handmade paper from suppliers in Japan and India is then laid on top of the pigments and, with a steel block [and the weight of his own body] Serra applies pressure to the sheet in a structure—or better, a vector—that is not preestablished but is always, once grounded by that first stroke, pursued as consistently as possible. The process depends on achieving even pressure across the surface, sensing the marking, through the movement of the hand, through embodied memory and visual tracking over the blank white sheet. […] Once the process is felt to have reached its end […]—then and only then is the paper lifted from its bed of black matter.” 1
Richard Serra was born in 1938 in San Francisco and lives and works in New York and the North Fork of Long Island. His first significant solo exhibition was held at the Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York, in 1969. His first solo museum exhibition took place at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1970. Serra has since participated in numerous international exhibitions, including documenta (1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987), in Kassel, Germany; the Venice Biennales of 1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions of 1968, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1995, and 2006.
Museum exhibitions that have focused on the artist’s drawings include Richard Serra: Tekeningen/Drawings 1971-1977, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1977; Richard Serra: Zeichnungen 1971-1977, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany, 1978; Richard Serra: Drawings, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark, 1986; Richard Serra: Tekeningen/Drawings, Bonnefantemuseum, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 1990; Richard Serra: Drawings, Serpentine Gallery, London, 1992; Richard Serra: Drawings and Prints, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, 1994; Richard Serra: Rio Rounds, Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, 1997-1998; and Richard Serra: Drawings – Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, 2008. A major traveling retrospective dedicated to the artist’s drawings was presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Menil Collection, Houston (which was the organizing venue) in 2011-2012. The Courtauld Gallery, London, presented Richard Serra: Drawings for The Courtauld in 2013, and Richard Serra: desenhos na casa da Gávea was on view at Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro, in 2014. Richard Serra: Drawings 2015-2017, a significant overview of the artist’s recent works on paper, was on view at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 2017.
Solo exhibitions of Serra’s sculptural work have been held at numerous public institutions worldwide, including, among others, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1980; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1984; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, 1985; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1986; Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, 1987; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1987; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1988; Kunsthaus Zürich, 1990; CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, 1990; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1992; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1992; Dia Center for the Arts, New York, 1997; Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, 1997-1998; Trajan’s Market, Rome, 2000; Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, 2003; and Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 2004.
In 2005, The Matter of Time, a series of eight large-scale works by Serra from 1994-2005 was installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and in 2007, The Museum of Modern Art, New York presented the retrospective Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years. Promenade, a major site-specific installation, was shown at the Grand Palais, Paris, for MONUMENTA 2008. In 2011, the artist’s large-scale, site-specific sculpture 7 was permanently installed opposite the Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, Qatar. In 2014, the Qatar Museum Authority presented a two-venue retrospective survey of Serra’s work at the QMA Gallery and the Al Riwaq exhibition space, Doha, and East-West/West-East, 2014, was permanently installed in the Brouq Nature Reserve in the Zekreet Desert, Qatar.
Serra has been the recipient of many notable prizes and awards, including a Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, Venice Biennale, Italy (2001); The Orden pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, Federal Republic of Germany (2002); Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España, Spain (2008); Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Republic of France (2015); and, most recently, a J. Paul Getty Medal (2018) awarded in honor of extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts.
In 2013 in New York, David Zwirner presented Richard Serra: Early Work, a critically acclaimed exhibition that brought together significant works from 1966-1971. The accompanying catalogue extensively covers this period of the artist’s career with a compendium of archival texts and photographs and an essay by Hal Foster. In 2014, the gallery presented an exhibition of new drawings, Richard Serra: Vertical and Horizontal Reversals; a catalogue accompanied the exhibition and included an essay by Gordon Hughes. Richard Serra: Equal, an installation in forged weatherproof steel, was presented at David Zwirner, New York, in 2015. That work is now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2016, David Zwirner Books/Steidl published Richard Serra: Forged Steel, which surveys the artist’s work in forged steel since 1977 and features scholarship by Richard Shiff and texts by the artist. In 2017, the gallery presented an exhibition of new sculpture and drawings by the artist at its New York location.
1 Neil Cox, “The Shape of Feeling,” in Richard Serra: Drawings 2015-2017. Exhibition catalogue published for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (New York/Göttingen: Gagosian/Steidl, 2017) pp. 12-13
About the exhibition
Dates: May 23, 2018 – Jun 30, 2018
Opening: May 23, 2018, Wednesday
Venue: David Zwirner
Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, for further information please visit www.davidzwirner.com.