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

Richard Serra and Georges Seurat Exhibition Opens at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

“Serra/Seurat. Drawings” is on view through September 6

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.

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

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