Richard Serra - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Richard Serra is one of the most significant and important artists of the post-Abstract Expressionist period, famous for his large-scale sculptural works of sheet metal. While Serra is most widely known for his sculpture, drawing has always been an integral part of his life and of his artistic career. While linked to his sculptural work, his drawings form a distinct body of work. He regards drawing as a daily practice, a way of contemplating form and movement and articulating space, and as a way of staying in touch with the communication of the world. Serra has described the drawing process: “I have dealt with hand-eye coordination all my life – it’s another kind of language for me. To see is to think and drawing is another way of thinking” (the artist on his drawing retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in an interview with Charlie Rose, 21 April 2011).

    Drawing for Serra is fundamental to how all artists think and understand the world surrounding them. And the most interesting artists in Serra’s mind draw by inventing their own tools and processes, instead of just using what has been around and used before. Serra began drawing in his childhood and has since used traditional drawing media such as ink, charcoal and crayons. In the mid-1970s, he turned to using single black paintsticks made out of pigment, wax and oil. When he realized the time and labour intensiveness of using single paintsticks for large canvases, he started melting down individual sticks and combining them into large ‘paintstick bricks’ which allowed him to apply the medium with both hands and actively engage with the picture plane. He often also presses melted paintstick through a screen of wire mesh, which leaves the paper covered with a surface of thick pigment. In this way he not only created new visual forms and textures but more importantly he invented a whole new process. As an exponent of Process art, Serra’s practice is to allow the actual method of making remain visible, to escape anecdotal references to the world and for the drawings to be of interest in and of themselves.

    Serra is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between the art work and its environment, but also in the physical and visual relationship between the art work and its viewer. The concept of space is an important expression of these relationships, described in terms of gravity, weight, texture and movement.

    In this exploration of space, Serra does not consider black to be a colour but rather a material that holds weight and therefore acts in response to gravity. Black paintstick has been his favoured medium in which to explore these qualities by creating thick textured layers of pigment. The current lot is a beautiful example of his powerful and engaging drawings which Serra brought to a new level through his own medium and process.

  • Artist Biography

    Richard Serra

    American • 1938

    Richard Serra is an American artist commonly associated with Minimalism and the Process Art movement. Though perhaps best known for his monumental works made from industrial steel, Serra has also worked extensively in painting and printmaking. After attending the University of California, Berkeley, he earned his MFA from Yale, where he became friends and collaborators with classmates such as Frank Stella, Chuck Close and Nancy Graves, to whom Serra was married for five years. Later working in New York, Serra was inspired by Minimalist contemporaries such as Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt, who valued the work of creation more than the finished artwork itself.

    Serra’s work is installed permanently at the Guggenheim Bilbao, and can also be found in the collections of Dia:Beacon, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate, London.

    View More Works

27

Tracks #2

2007
Paintstick on handmade paper.
106.7 × 106.7 cm (42 × 42 in).

Estimate
£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £87,650

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 October 2011
London