Richard Serra: Drawings - Explore | David Zwirner
Installation view of the exhibition Richard Serra: Drawings at David Zwirner in New York dated 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

“The eye is like a muscle.… The more you use it, the better you see. I see most things through drawing. For me it is a way of probing vision. Drawing is essential for me. It is at the core of what I do.”

—Richard Serra

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper artwork by Richard Serra, titled Beat the Devil, dated 2021.

Beat the Devil, 2021

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper
39 1/2 x 96 inches (100.3 x 243.8 cm)

Richard Serra has consistently produced drawings throughout his decades-long career. These works defy any metaphoric or emotive reading, instead expressing the notions of time, materiality, weight, and process that characterize Serra’s sculptural practice.

A photograph of Richard Serra at work on Alameda Street, 1980. Photograph: Ulrich Baatz.

Richard Serra at work on Alameda Street, 1980. Photograph: Ulrich Baatz

Richard Serra at work on Alameda Street, 1980. Photograph: Ulrich Baatz

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper by Richard Serra, titled Up the River, dated 2021.

Up the River, 2021

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper
39 1/2 x 96 inches (100.3 x 243.8 cm)

“Serra’s sensitivity to the procedural importance of drawing—its central role in transitions from one state to another—reveals a great deal about his inclination to derive criteria and conclusions from far beneath the layer of formal conventions upon which even his own practices stand.”

—James Lawrence

Installation view of the exhibition Richard Serra: Drawings at David Zwirner in New York dated 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

The artist has employed black paintstick (compressed oil paint, wax, and pigment) as his preferred medium since 1971. Applied here using a stencil and in broad, dense strokes, the paintstick conveys a strong sense of optical weight, acutely similar to the physical presence of his sculptures.

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper by Richard Serra, titled The Wagons Roll at Night, dated 2021.

The Wagons Roll at Night, 2021

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper
48 1/4 x 39 3/4 inches (122.6 x 101 cm)

“We sense the heaviness of Serra’s drawings visually yet not merely as perceptual illusion, for the heaviness is tangible. If only because paintstick is such a dense vehicle for pigment, it links vision to the sense of touch.… We feel—as if by bodily intuition—the force of the applied substance.”

—Richard Shiff

A paintstick on Belgian linen artwork by Richard Serra, titled Circle, 1975 to 2011.

Circle, 1975/2011

Paintstick on Belgian linen
Diameter: 79 inches (200.7 cm)

“Black is a property, not a quality. In terms of weight, black is heavier, creates a denser volume, holds itself in a more compressed field.… It is comparable to forging.… A black shape can hold its space and place to a larger volume and alter the mass of that volume readily.”

—Richard Serra

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper by Richard Serra, titled Chain Lightning, dated 2021.

Chain Lightning, 2021

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on two (2) sheets of handmade paper
38 1/2 x 78 inches (97.8 x 198.1 cm)

These works play on similar operations—rotations, inversions, and symmetries—employed in much of Serra’s sculptural work going back to his Verb List (1967).

A photograph by Dirk Reinartz featuring a sculpture titled Clara-Clara by Richard Serra, dated 1983, it consists of Weatherproof steel, Two identical conical sections inverted relative to each other

Richard Serra, Clara-Clara, 1983, Weatherproof steel, Two identical conical sections inverted relative to each other, one: 12´ (3.7 m) high x 109´ (33.2 m) along the chord x 2" (5 cm) thick, one: 12´ (3.7 m) high x 107´10" (32.8 cm) along the chord x 2" (5 cm) thick plates 6’ (1.8 m) apart in the middle and 60’ (18.3 m) at either end. Collection City of Paris. Artwork © Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph: Dirk Reinartz.

Richard Serra, Clara-Clara, 1983, Weatherproof steel, Two identical conical sections inverted relative to each other, one: 12´ (3.7 m) high x 109´ (33.2 m) along the chord x 2" (5 cm) thick, one: 12´ (3.7 m) high x 107´10" (32.8 cm) along the chord x 2" (5 cm) thick plates 6’ (1.8 m) apart in the middle and 60’ (18.3 m) at either end. Collection City of Paris. Artwork © Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph: Dirk Reinartz.

An installation view of the exhibition, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, dated 2011

Installation view, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011

Installation view, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011

An installation view of the exhibition, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, at The Meil Collection in Houston, dated 2012

Installation view, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, The Menil Collection, Houston, 2012

Installation view, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, The Menil Collection, Houston, 2012

An installation view of the exhibition, Richard Serra Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work, at Kunsthaus Bregenz, dated 2008
Installation view, Richard Serra Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2008
Installation view, Richard Serra Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2008

“My whole drawing practice is involved with repetition, knowing there’s no possibility of repeating, knowing that it’s going to yield something different every time.”

—Richard Serra

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper artwork by Richard Serra, titled The Petrified Forest, dated 2020.

The Petrified Forest, 2020

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper
48 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches (122.6 x 99.7 cm)
A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper in seven (7) parts by Richard Serra, titled Drawing in 7 Parts, dated 2021.

Drawing in 7 Parts, 2021

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper in seven (7) parts
Framed, each: 40 1/2 x 44 5/8 inches (102.9 x 113.3 cm)

“I have always thought that if I could draw something I would have a structural comprehension of it. I do not draw to depict, illustrate, or diagram existing works. The shapes in paper drawings originate in a glimpse of a volume, a detail, an edge, a weight. Drawing in that sense amounts to an index of structures I have built.”

—Richard Serra

A paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper artwork by Richard Serra, titled Dark Victory, dated 2020.

Dark Victory, 2020

Paintstick, etching ink, and silica on handmade paper
48 1/4 x 39 1/2 inches (122.6 x 100.3 cm)
Installation view of the exhibition Richard Serra: Drawings at David Zwirner in New York dated 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Richard Serra: Drawings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

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