<!-- ----- chapeau ------ --> <span class="chapeau">The exhibition “Richard Serra: Props and Tapes” at the Wiesbaden Museum will include <i>Right Angle Prop</i>, 1969, a major work by the American artist (born in 1938 in Chicago). On this occasion, Serra will be Presented with the Jawlensky Prize of the city of Wiesbaden.</span> <br> <br> <br> <!-- ----- lieu ------ --> <div class="col m-10 pull-right align-right"> <span class="lieu">Museum Wiesbaden</span> </div> <br> <br> <br> <!-- ----- titre ------ --> <div class="col m-10"> <span class="title">richard</span><br><br> <span class="title">serra</span> </div> <!-- ----- auteur ------ --> <div class="col m-4 auteur pull-right"> <div class="inner"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Texte</a><br> <b>Alfred Pacquement</b><br> <span>Former director of the <br>Musée national d’art moderne</span> </div> </div> </div> <!-- ----- texte ------ --> <div class="clearfix"> <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>In 1967, just as conceptual art was beginning to establish itself as a significant movement in the New York art world, Richard Serra wrote a programmatic list of eighty-four infinitive verbs that he then used as a kind of instruction manual for the creation of a subsequent group of early sculptures that proved to be key to his body of work as a whole. This <i>Verb List</i> serves as a kind of manifesto, comparable to Sol LeWitt’s “<i>Paragraphs on Conceptual Art</i>,” published that same year. It is indicative of the emphasis that Serra placed on <i>process</i>, on the decisions leading to the selection of a sculpture’s elements, their specific material properties, and their arrangement in space. Each of the verbs selected by Serra designates a simple, direct action (to suspend, to tear, to roll, etc.) that Serra would then execute himself in ensuing works. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>At the time he wrote his <i>Verb List</i>, Serra was working mainly with vulcanized rubber, emphasizing the material’s flexibility by slicing into it, cutting it into strips, folding it, etc. One of these sculptures perfectly illustrates his method: <i>To Lift</i> (1967) consists of a sheet of rubber laid flat on the ground, then lifted up at its center to gather the material into a conical shape. Serra set himself apart from his minimalist cohort through his more tactile relationship to materials—a key component of his approach to sculpture. Lead, the material Serra would turn to next, appealed to the artist because of its flexibility and malleability, associated with a certain weight: “… lead, with its low order of entropy, was a gravity-bound material that I could configure through hand-manipulation on the floor… I began to tightly roll sheets of lead.”<sup>1</sup> Serra would eventually tear the lead and scatter the shreds, or splash lead along the juncture of the wall and the floor, executing yet more actions from his <i>Verb List</i>. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span><i>Right Angle Prop</i> is part of a key group of early works by Serra in which he uses the verb “to prop” to create sculptures that are based, like all of Serra’s work going forward, on notions of weight, gravity, and mass. Their formal vocabulary is extremely simple: sheets of lead are propped up against one another, precariously holding together without welding or soldering. In one work, for instance, a sheet of lead is maintained against a wall, several feet from the floor, by a tube of rolled lead. Given their relatively small scale, these works can be arranged and manipulated by human hands and arms without the assistance of machines, despite the weight of the various elements and the risks involved in this delicate operation. In <i>Right Angle Prop</i>, a heavy sheet of lead leans against a wall, propped up by a narrower sheet of lead folded at a 90-degree angle. Its equilibrium is maintained by the opposition of masses of its two constitutive elements, which only acquire their plastic strength once they have been positioned thusly—before Serra sets them up in this way, they are merely inert materials, without any notable qualities. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>In a snapshot from 1969, Serra, assisted by several artist friends, is seen installing the four lead sheet of <i>One Ton Prop</i> (<i>House of Cards</i>), 1969, a particularly significant work in the series: “The four plates’ tendency to implode, to collapse inward and downward, was a gravity-defining, interdependent, and self-supporting structure not unlike the wall props, but here the pictorial allusions were completely expunged.”<sup>2</sup> <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Later on, in order to work on a larger scale, Serra would move from lead to rigid sheets of steel, their increasing weight requiring him to use cranes and other lifting machines to arrange the increasingly heavy pieces of metal. These works are presented either indoors or in plein air, in urban or rural landscapes. Their scale requires the viewer to move around them, making the experience of this sculpture truly physical, destabilizing our perception of space. <br><br> 1 — Richard Serra in an interview with Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, 1980, reprinted in <i>Richard Serra: Writings/Interviews</i> (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 114.<br> 2 — Ibid, p. 115. </div>
Richard SERRA<br> <i>Right Angle Prop</i>, 1969<br> Lead antimony<br> 170 × 170 × 2,5 cm (plate)<br> 165 × 45 × 2,5 cm (angle)
Richard SERRA<br> <i>Right Angle Prop</i>, 1969<br> Lead antimony<br> 170 × 170 × 2,5 cm (plate)<br> 165 × 45 × 2,5 cm (angle)
 

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