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Richard Serra at Gagosian
 
     
 
Switch
1999
 
Side view of
Switch
1999
 
Minimalist maestro Richard Serra closes out the millennium with a double show featuring an impressive group of works on paper and one of the largest and most majestic sculptures of his career. At Gagosian's uptown space he presents "Out-of-round," a series of large pieces of paper, each featuring an imposing black disk of pasty graphite and oilstick. A combined force of physical and mental activity is apparent, and conveys a sense of the artist's passion. Neither paintings nor drawings, these works suggest that warmth and humanity may be found in even the most severe of Serra's endeavors.

But the most spectacular Serra piece on view in New York is Switch, a monumental sculpture that inaugurates Gagosian's vast new Chelsea space. While some of Serra's detractors may complain that the recent sculpture is just "more of the same -- only bigger," the work, one of his most architectonic, represents an important breakthrough for the artist.

Switch is made of six identical Cor-Ten hot-rolled steel plates, each of which weighs 28 tons and is more than 13-feet high, 50-feet long and 2-inches thick. Formed in the shape of gently curving arcs, they are arranged in pairs, several feet apart, around a central axis. Viewers can walk through the elliptical pathways defined by the plates for an experience akin to exploring the impenetrable stone walls of a Medieval fortress. Surprisingly, the cold and dense metal doesn't thwart the sensuality of the experience. At the center of the work is a triangular area that turns out to be a unique intersection, offering a choice of three paths. It is the heart of Switch, and truly one of the most amazing spaces in New York right now -- a place where, one can imagine, the universe converges.

Richard Serra, "Switch," Nov. 17,1999- Feb. 26, 2000, at Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011, and "Out-of-round," Nov. 20, 1999-Jan. 14, 2000, at Gagosian, 980 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10021.

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