Richard Serra

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.

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 to 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. In June 2020, a new major sculpture by Serra was installed on the West Quad of Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio. In June 2022, the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, will inaugurate a new building specially conceived to house a recent large-scale forged steel sculpture by Serra.  

Museum exhibitions that have focused on the artist’s drawings include Richard Serra: Tekeningen/Drawings 19711977, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1977; Richard Serra: Zeichnungen 19711977, 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 20152017, a significant overview of the artist’s recent works on paper, was on view at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 2017. Serra/Seurat. Drawings, an exhibition pairing a selection of Serra’s recent drawings alongside those by Georges Seurat, was presented at the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2022.

Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, Serra’s monumental sculpture which debuted at David Zwirner in 2017, is now on long-term view at Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland, in a new building that was designed by Thomas Phifer in collaboration with the artist. 

Serra has been the recipient of many notable prizes and awards, including a J. Paul Getty Medal (2018) awarded in honor of extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts; the Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Republic of France (2015); Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España, Spain (2008); Orden pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, Federal Republic of Germany (2002); Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, Venice Biennale, Italy (2001); Praemium Imperiale, Japan Art Association (1994); Carnegie Prize (1985); a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1974); and a Fulbright Grant (1965).

In 2013 in New York, David Zwirner presented Richard Serra: Early Work, a critically acclaimed exhibition that brought together significant works from 1966 to 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. In 2018 in Hong Kong, David Zwirner presented a series of new drawings by Serra. In 2022, a new forged steel sculpture by Serra, as well as a new series of drawings, were presented at the gallery’s New York location.

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Sculptures by Richard Serra, titled Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, dated 2017.

Richard Serra, Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, 2017. © 2022 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Beginning June 23, Richard Serra’s monumental sculpture Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure (2017) will join Glenstone Museum’s outdoor sculpture program in a new building open to the public.

Sited along the Woodland Trail in a densely wooded area across a restored stream, the 4,000-square-foot concrete structure was designed by Thomas Phifer of Thomas Phifer and Partners, in collaboration with the artist. The building is the first new construction on Glenstone’s grounds since the opening of the Pavilions in 2018.

One of the most influential artists of his generation, Richard Serra has devoted his decades-long sculpture practice to considering the dynamic between form, space, and material. Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure is his third monumental sculpture at Glenstone, joining Sylvester (2001), the torqued spiral anchoring the entrance to the Gallery building, and Contour 290 (2004), a ribbon of steel bisecting the meadow that sits exactly 290 feet above sea level.

First exhibited at David Zwirner New York in 2017Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure is one work composed of four cylindrical forms forged from steel, each weighing 82 tons—the heaviest form that a foundry is able to forge—but ranging in height and diameter. The surface of each form carries a rich, textured patina imprinted by the intense pressure of the forging process. The work is housed inside an unadorned structure made of cast-in-place concrete that visitors will approach along a winding boardwalk.

“Richard Serra’s work has been a cornerstone in the collection since the museum’s early days,” said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder. “He helped build Glenstone’s reputation as a destination for monumental site-specific artwork. The addition of Four Rounds to our outdoor program is made all the more special by the collaborative process between Richard and our architect, Tom Phifer. The building they designed is more than a container for the sculpture; it’s an integral part of the experience. We look forward to sharing the beauty of this extraordinary achievement with our visitors.”

The proportions of the interior building are tuned to the sculpture’s scale and placement. A simple concrete roof is supported by large beams, which serve as walls for the apertures that illuminate the space. White glass skylights bring in diffuse daylight. Variations in light and shadow are dictated by nature, providing visitors an unmediated experience that changes with the season.

 “It’s a privilege to work with Glenstone again, all the more so because of the exceptional opportunity to engage with Richard Serra,” Thomas Phifer said. “Together, we were able to consider every detail of how the volume of the space interacts with the masses within, how the different qualities of light filtering down animate the surfaces of the sculpture, how the texture of the building’s concrete enters into dialogue with Serra’s steel. I hope Glenstone’s visitors feel as deeply satisfied as I do when they encounter this combination of place and object that is so apparently simple and elemental in its wholeness, and yet is completely imbued with thought.”

Learn more at the Glenstone Museum.


Installation view of the exhibition Serra/Seurat. Drawings at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, dated 2022.

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition Serra/Seurat. Drawings at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, dated 2022.

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition Serra/Seurat. Drawings at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, dated 2022.

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition Serra/Seurat. Drawings at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, dated 2022.

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition Serra/Seurat. Drawings at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, dated 2022.

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

Installation view, Serra/Seurat. Drawings, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2022

June 9–September 6, 2022

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Serra/Seurat. Drawings, an exhibition that brings together a selection of twenty-two drawings by the late nineteenth century master Georges Seurat in dialogue with the drawings of Richard Serra, a great admirer of Seurat’s. Despite the years that separate them, both artists are notable for working with drawing as an end in itself while imbuing it with innovative characteristics and extrapolating it to other areas of their work.

The drawings of Seurat were highly valued by artists of his time like Maximilien Luce, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Signac, who described them in 1899 as “the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence,” and they have continued to be admired by the likes of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Bridget Riley, and Serra himself.

Seurat usually used Conté crayons on a handmade French paper, Michallet, which is characterized by its irregularities, heavy texture, and undulations or crests, almost imperceptible to the naked eye. This knowledge of the material which distinguishes the great artists was discovered by Serra while he was studying with Josef Albers. “Once one understood the basic lesson that procedure was dictated by the material, you also realized that matter imposed its own form on form,” explained Serra.

Serra saw that sculpture was not subject only to carving, modeling, and casting, but also that materials greatly influenced the spatial experience they generate. Serra applies this to his drawings as well: in his Ramble series, which he began in 2015, Serra revels in his materials, using handmade Japanese paper whose manufacturing process makes the fibers create “accidents” so that every sheet is different from the others. This means that no Ramble is the same as any other, both because of the manner in which the artist works on the paper and because of the way the paper reacts.

In this exhibition, thirty-three of the smallest Ramble drawings are arranged in a grid formed by three rows of eleven. With this configuration, the artist shares his creative process with the viewer, who is enabled to perceive the effects created by each impression on the unique sheets of paper.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

For the first time in Europe, the Centre Georges Pompidou presents a complete retrospective of the films and videos by the American artist Richard Serra, accompanying the recent donation of work by the artist to the museum.

The series encompasses Richard Serra’s eleven-year (1968–1979) exploration into the medium of film, marking some of the earliest endeavors in the artist’s career. Inspired by the works of Yvonne Rainer, Andy Warhol, and Michael Snow, Serra’s cinematographic achievements seek to push the boundaries of the medium and our perceptual frameworks along uncharted and challenging territories.

Art historian and critic Hal Foster gave an introduction to Conversations About Sculpture, a new volume bringing together talks between Richard Serra and Foster over a fifteen-year period.

Thursday, November 29, 7 PM (free and open to the public)
192 Books, 192 10th Avenue

Published this month, the book examines Serra’s life and work, offering insight into six decades of artistic practice committed to sculptural form and his belief in sculpture as experience. As the artist has said, "The rhythm of the body moving through space has been the motivating source of most of my work." Introduced by Foster, who also wrote the text in Richard Serra: Early Work, the catalogue accompanying the critically acclaimed exhibition at David Zwirner in New York in 2013, Conversations about Sculpture is both candid and provocative. Ranging from the intimate to the analytical, these dialogues cover subjects including Serra’s work in steel mills as a young man, the impact of music, dance, and architecture on his art, sources of inspiration from Donatello and Brancusi to Japanese gardens and Machu Picchu, and the trials his groundbreaking work has faced.

This year, Serra received a J. Paul Getty Medal for his contribution to the arts. James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, praised his ability to “transform our ideas about sculpture itself." "No living sculptor has shown a more radical ongoing capacity to rethink fundamentals," David Carrier wrote in a review of the artist’s most recent solo exhibition at David Zwirner; "Serra is a great artist because he remains wonderfully innovative."

Image: Installation view, Richard Serra: Sculpture and Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2017

Richard Serra in 1992 at the Henrichshütte Hattingen Foundry in Germany, overseeing the forging of his sculpture titled Weight and Measure.

Richard Serra has been awarded a J. Paul Getty Medal for his contribution to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts. “His monumental works have not only transformed the landscapes in which they are placed,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, which established the award in 2013, "they also transform our ideas about sculpture itself." The award will be presented to Serra and fellow 2018 winners Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Agnes Gund, who is president emerita of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, at a dinner at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on September 24.

The news was announced in Artforum.

Image: Richard Serra at Henrichshütte Hattingen Foundry, Germany, overseeing the forging of Weight and Measure (1992)

Richard Serra is the focus of an extensive profile and interview in Border Crossings on the occasion of his recent solo exhibition at David Zwirner.

"The conversation started with language," writes Meeka Walsh, "that non-material stuff, literature being Richard Serra’s undergraduate degree . . . Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance from 1841, with its emphasis on independence and nonconformity, was an early guide to which he has adhered since his student days. For the viewer in the presence of Serra’s work, words nevertheless fail. "

In the insightful interview that follows, Serra touches on subjects including his approach to space, the influence of reading, drawing in Brancusi's studio in Paris, and breaking the chain of art history.

Read more in Border Crossings

Art in America also named Richard Serra: Sculpture and Drawings among their "Editor’s Picks" in December 2017.

Cover of Tell Me Something Good.

Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail brings together 60 of the New York-based journal's most important interviews, and includes conversations with gallery artists Suzan Frecon, Richard Serra, Luc Tuymans, and Lisa Yuskavage. Selected and co-edited by Jarrett Earnest, a frequent Brooklyn Rail contributor, and Lucas Zwirner, Editorial Director at David Zwirner Books, Tell Me Something Good includes an introduction to the project by Phong Bui as well as hand-drawn portraits of all the artists interviewed for the book. Published by David Zwirner Books




June 24–September 24

Organized in collaboration with the artist, Drawings 20152017 was the first museum presentation of recent drawings by Richard Serra. The exhibition included 80 drawings, among them works from the Ramble (2015), Composites (2016), and Rifts (2011–17) series, as well as sketchbooks which have never been shown before. In addition, Serra created two new series entitled Rotterdam Horizontals and Rotterdam Verticals especially for this exhibition.

Drawings 2015-2017 continued the long-standing connection between the artist and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Serra's first solo exhibition at the museum was held in 1980, and marked the creation and permanent installation of the large-scale steel sculpture Waxing Arcs in the entrance area.

Published on the occasion of this exhibition, Richard Serra: Drawings 2015–2017 includes texts by Neil Cox and Francesco Stocchi as well as a chronology of the drawings and a historical text by Albert Camus that was selected by Serra.

May 20–October 15

Richard Serra: Films and Videotapes presented 16 works made between 1968 and 1979. The exhibition was the first comprehensive survey of the artist's films, and screened the works in their original 16mm format.

As Ken Johnson wrote in The New York Times, Serra's early films "insist on material conditions." Created in the same period as his initial experiments with materials such as vulcanized rubber and lead, Serra's films anticipate his ongoing focus on the spatial and temporal properties of sculpture. Included in this exhibition is the artist's first film, Hand Catching Lead (1968), which reflects his distinctive interest in the interplay of gravity and material.

In a video profile by The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Richard Serra describes the ideas and process behind Equal (2015), from forging the steel to the encounter with the finished work. This monumental installation was acquired by the museum in 2015 following its debut presentation at David Zwirner in New York the same year. In his review of the gallery exhibition, art critic Jerry Saltz stated in New York Magazine, "This is his best show in more than 15 years of great shows, and it resounds with a complexity and cosmic instability not seen in solitary objects since Giorgio Morandi's miraculous vibrating arrangements."

Accompanying the presentation of Equal at David Zwirner was the publication of Richard Serra: Forged Steel, with texts by Serra and Richard Shiff. Produced in close collaboration with the artist, the book is the first in-depth overview of his work using this material. Published by David Zwirner Books | Steidl

In 2011 and 2014, Qatar Museums commissioned Richard Serra to create permanent, site-specific public sculptures in Qatar. 7 and East-West/West-East are the artist's largest works to date.

7, a sculpture composed of seven steel plates, was erected in 2011 on a pier extending out from the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park in Doha, adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art designed by I.M. Pei. The plates, each of which is 78 feet high and eight feet wide, are arranged in a heptagonal configuration. 7 is Serra's tallest sculpture to date, and his first public work in the Middle East.

In 2014, a second major commission resulted in the permanent installation of a line of four vertical steel plates (two plates measure 55 and two 48 feet high, while all four are 13 feet wide) in The Brouq Nature Reserve in the Zekreet Desert outside Doha in Qatar. East-West/West-East extends over roughly half a mile—the largest area of any work by Serra. “East-West/West-East towers with the grandeur of Stonehenge or the ruins of a classical city,” wrote Hyperallergic, “and more than any work of Serra’s I’ve ever encountered it establishes an organic relationship to its surroundings, the steel plates as much a reference to the earth’s elemental forces and materials as they are to human industry.”

Also in 2014, Qatar Museums organized two concurrent presentations of Serra’s work in Doha, marking his first exhibitions in the Middle East. At the QMA Gallery in the Katara cultural village, a retrospective exhibition included One Ton Prop (House of Cards) (1969), The Consequence of Consequence (2011), Double Torqued Ellipse (1999), and works on paper from 2013. A new work titled Passage of Time occupied the entirety of the Al Riwaq exhibition space. "In addition to the permanent pieces,” Hyperallergic observed, “two gallery shows allow viewers to take in the full sweep of Serra’s four-plus decades as one of America’s—and the world’s—foremost sculptors."

The publication Richard Serra accompanied the two permanent installations and the exhibitions in Qatar. Published by Steidl

Read more: an interview with the artist in The New Yorker about East-West/West-East, and a profile in The Wall Street Journal Magazine featuring the public installations in Qatar.

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