Richard Serra: November 2,1939-****...United
"When I first
started, what was very very important to me was dealing with the nature of process."
One of the greatest process artists is the San Francisco son of a shipyard pipe fitter, Richard
Serra. With his hands on approach, he became internationally known as a artist who’s works seem to defy gravity.
He began his formal training at the University of California at Berkeley, however his degree was in English literature. He
worked his way through school at the steel mills. “I think working in
steel mills gave me a whole notion of how to use steel in a way that it hadn't been used before.” This real world
work experience would serve him well in his professional art career, as well as inspire that career. A few years later he
received a masters degree on art from Yale University. He then studied in Paris, France and Florence, Italy. He was also awarded
an Honorary Doctorate degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts, in Oakland, California.
Serra liked experimenting with his artistic approach. He did everything from throwing molten lead on wall
to make impact casts to using enormous plates of curved steel to look as though it is weightless. He also integrates other
industrial materials like rubber, wood, and concrete. “I started as a painter and I started using
rubber and lead and a lot of other things and when I finally picked up a piece of the steel, I realized that the way steel
had been used in the Industrial Revolution, the way it had been used for making bridges or silos or whatever, hadn't been
used in sculpture.”
In recent years, Serra has been working a series known as “Arc of the Curve”. These prints, as the series name
implies, bend to one side. These are large etching prints, ranging from 4’X3’ to 8’X4’ in size, that
are printed in solid black that have a textural quality that resembles that of tree bark. Prints of this size require over
a pound of ink to produce the print.
Regardless of the artistic approach, Serra places his emphasis on the process: the character and act
of making it is far more important that the end product. This is why his work also lends its self so well to another art media:
video. The videos of him making of his art become as much a part of the work as the end results. He currently lives between
his home studios in New York and Nova Scotia, Canada.