Richard Serra was born in San Francisco in 1939. After studying at the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Barbara, he graduated in 1961 with a BA in English literature. During this time, he began working in steel mills in order to support himself. In 1964, he graduated from Yale University with both a BFA and an MFA. Receiving a Yale Traveling Fellowship, he spent a year in Paris, followed by a year in Florence funded by a Fulbright grant. Serra’s early work in the 1960s focused on the industrial materials that he had worked with as a youth in West Coast steel mills and shipyards: steel and lead. A famous work from this time involved throwing lead against the walls of his studio. Though casts were created from the impact of the lead hitting the walls, the emphasis of the piece was really on the process of creating it: raw aggression and physicality, combined with a self-conscious awareness of material and a real engagement with the space in which it was worked. Since those Minimalist beginnings, Serra’s work has become famous for that same physicality—but one that is now compounded by the breathtaking size and weight that the pieces have acquired. His series of “Torqued Ellipses” (1996–99)—which comprise gigantic plates of towering steel, bent and curved, leaning in and out—carve very private spaces from the necessarily large public sites in which they have been erected. One of Serra’s public works is the sixty-foot-tall “Charlie Brown” (1999, named for the Peanuts comic-strip character to honor its author, Charles Schultz, who had died that year), which was erected in the courtyard of an office building in San Francisco. Serra lives in New York and Nova Scotia.
Serra studied painting with Josef Albers at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture between 1961 and 1964. He claims to have taken most of his inspiration from the artists who taught there, most notablyPhilip Guston and the experimental composer Morton Feldman. He continued his training abroad, spending a year each in Florence and Paris. In 1964, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Rome, where he lived and worked with his first wife, sculptor Nancy Graves. Since then, he has lived in New York, where he first used rubber in 1966 and began applying his characteristic work material lead in 1968. In New York, his circle of friends included Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Smithson. At one point, to fund his art, Serra started a furniture-removals business, Low-Rate Movers, and employedChuck Close, Philip Glass, Spalding Gray, and others.
Exhibit is pleased to have Weight III, a Richard Serra print from Gemini in its inventory. Come by and take a look at this magnificent piece from this influential artist.
For more in depth information on Richard Serra, read this article from the New Yorker.