Minimalist sculptor Richard Serra (American, b.1939) is a prominent figure in the contemporary art world, known for his large-scale sculptures created from industrial materials. Born in San Francisco, Serra studied English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. While in school, Serra worked in steel mills to support himself, an experience which prompted his affinity for working with industrial metal. In 1961, Serra moved to Connecticut to study Fine Art at Yale University. At Yale he worked with famed faculty fellow Josef Albers on the production of Albers’s influential manifesto, the Interaction of Color. Serra’s early 1960s works were process-oriented, emphasizing the act of creation and the qualities of the material over the finished product.

His mature work grew increasingly larger in scale, and he began to prefer using Cor-Ten steel over softer materials such as lead. Many of his later works are intended to be site-specific, because the pieces challenge the viewer’s perception of a specific urban setting through the placement of Serra’s sculptures. Serra’s career was plagued by controversy in the 1980s with the installation of his undulating wall of steel, Tilted Arc, commissioned by the Arts-in-Architecture program of the U.S. General Services Administration for the Federal Plaza in New York. Serra’s sculptures are massive, demanding, and provocative, and, as a result, they are always either hated or loved; his Tilted Arc became a point of great contention in lower Manhattan. In March of 1985, a jury voted 4–1 in favor of removing the sculpture, and after several failed appeals on Serra’s behalf, the sculpture was cut up into three pieces and removed in the middle of the night in March of 1989. Although disheartened by this monumental loss, Serra’s career continued to boom with numerous commissions and periods of prolific creation.

His sculptures and installations are in numerous collections worldwide. In addition to sculpting, Serra has established himself as a video artist as well as an actor, most recently appearing in Matthew Barney’s 2002 film Cremaster 3 as “the architect.”

Timeline

1939
Born in San Francisco, CA
1957–1961
BA, University of California, Berkeley, CA
1964
MA, Yale University, New Haven, CT
1964–1966
Received Fulbright Scholarship and traveled to France and Italy
1975
Received the Skowhegan Sculpture Prize
1994
Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Received the Premium Imperiale, Japan Art Association
Lives and works in New York, NY, and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Exhibitions

2013
Limited Edition Prints from the Last Decade - Rosenbaum Contemporary, Boca Raton, FL
2013
His Master's Voice - Von Stimme Und Sprache - HMKV - Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund
2013
Early Work - David Zwirner, Inc., New York City, NY
2013
Vibrations - Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
2013
Double Rotation - Werke aus der Sammlung Lafrenz - Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen
2013
Now Here is also Nowhere: Part II - Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA
2013
The Whole Earth - Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
2012
Etchings - Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR
2012
Richard Serra: Prints - Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
2012
Richard Serra - paperworks - Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock
2012
"Black is Back" - Galerie Chantal Bamberger, Strasbourg
2011
Richard Serra: Works on Paper - John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2011
Richard Serra - Drawing - A Retrospective - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA
2011
Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
2010
Richard Serra, Greenpoint Rounds, Gagosian Gallery, Roma, Italy (solo)
2009
RICHARD SERRA: Blind Spot / Open Ended, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Richard Serra, Fernando Pessoa, Gagosian Gallery, London, UK (solo)
2008
Monumenta, Grand Palais, Paris, France (solo)
Richard Serra, Drawings, Gagosian Gallery, London, UK (solo)
Richard Serra, Sculpture, Gagosian Gallery, London, UK (solo)
2007
Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1999
Richard Serra: New Etchings: Torqued Ellipses and Rounds, Gemini G.E.L. Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1998
Richard Serra: Rounds, Eleven New Drawings, Galerie M. Bochum, Germany (solo)
Richard Serra: Weight and Measure Drawings, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Richard Serra, The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemempory Art, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1997
Leone and Macdonald/Richard Serra, Rena Bersten Gallery San Francisco, CA
1996
Weight and Measure, Etchings and Ike and Tina: a Drawing Installation, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY
Richard Serra Drawings, Galerie Nieves Fernandez, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Richard Serra: Weight and Measure Etchings, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
Richard Serra: Prints, International Biennial of Easel Graphik Kaliningrad-Konigsberg, Russia (solo)
Richard Serra: Thirteen Intaglio Prints, Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1995
Richard Serra: To Whom it May Concern, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Masterworks Given by Philip Johnson, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
L'Informe; Mode d'Emploi, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total Risk, Freedom, Discipline, Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1994
Beyond Boundaries - Art of the 60s and 70s, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Sculpture's Maquettes, Pace Wildenstein, New York, NY
After and Before, The Renaissance Society at the Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL
The Tradition of the New: Postwar Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1993
The Tradition of Geometric Abstraction in American Art 1930-1990, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1991
Johns, Kelly, Lichtenstein, Serra: Works Loaned by the Artists in honor of Neill Rudenstein, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Richard Serra: Skulptur, Malmö Konsthall Malmö, Sweden (solo)
Richard Serra: The Afangar Icelandic Series, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1991
Richard Serra: Sculpture and Drawings, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1990
Image World: Art and Media Culture, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Richard Serra:Tekeningen/Drawings, Bonnefantenmuseum Maastrict, Netherlands (solo)
Richard Serra: The Hours of the Day, Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
1989
The Linear Image: American Master Work on Paper, Marisa del Re Gallery, New York, NY
1988
Richard Serra; Graphik, Galerie Cora Hölzl, Dusseldorf, Germany (solo)
Richard Serra: Gravures Récentes, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
1987
Richard Serra: New Editions, Pace Primitive/Prints, New York, NY (solo)
Richard Serra: Sculpture, Leo Castelli Gallery and Pace Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1985
Black: Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Richard Serra, Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1984
Richard Serra: Room Installation and Drawings from "Clara-Clara", Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Richard Serra: Sculpture, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France
1983
Gemini G.E.L., Art and Collaboration, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1982
A Century of Modern Drawing, The British Museum, London, UK
1981
Richard Serra: Recent Drawings, Blum Helman Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1980
Richard Serra: Elevator 1980, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY (solo)
1974
Art as Language (org. under the Int'l. Council of MOMA, NY), Museo de Arte Moderna, Bogota, Colombia
1973
Opinions and Alternatives: Some Directions in Recent Art, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
1971
Sixth Guggenheim International, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1968
Primary Structure, Minimal pop Art, Anti-Form, Galerie Ricke Kassel, Germany
1966
From Arp to Arschwager 1, Noah Goldowsky Gallery, New York, NY

Public Collections

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Tate Britain, London (England)
Tate Modern, London (England)
Dia: Beacon, Beacon, NY
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY
Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina - MADRE, Naples, Italy
The Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Museu d´Art Contemporani de Barcelona - MACBA, Barcelona, Spain
Museo Guggenheim de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo, Bilbao, Spain
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany
Museum Folkwang Essen, Essen, Germany
ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, Germany
Kiasma - Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland
MAMAC - Musee d´Art Moderne et d`Art Contemporain Nice, Nice, France
CAPC - Musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, France
LaM - Lille Métropole musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
Albertina, Vienna, Austria
Generali Foundation, Vienna, Astria
Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark