• Forged Drawing

    • "Weight is a value for me—not that it is any more compelling than lightness, but I simply know more about weight than about lightness and therefore I have more to say about it, more to say about the balancing of weight, the diminishing of weight, the addition and subtraction of weight, the concentration of weight, the rigging of weight, the propping of weight, the placement of weight, the locking of weight, the psychological effects of weight, the disorientation of weight, the disequilibrium of weight, the rotation of weight, the movement of weight, the directionality of weight, the shape of weight."
      —Richard Serra

      Known for his large-scale, monumental sculptures, and often situated by the artist in international locations, Richard Serra’s lifelong fascination with weight, medium, and form is seen throughout his body of work and reaches its culmination in his 2008 work, Forged Drawing. Since the early 1970s, Serra has been continuously creating not only sculpture but drawings. Serra’s drawings, executed with oil paint, wax, or “paintstick,” hem together with a sense of weight, materiality, and the passage of time, while simultaneously defying norms of two-dimensional representation.


      Richard Serra, Portrait with Forged Drawing, 2008. Photo: Markus Tretter. © Richard Serra/VBK, Wien, 2008, Kunsthaus Bregenz.
      Richard Serra, Portrait with Forged Drawing, 2008. Photo: Markus Tretter. © Richard Serra/VBK, Wien, 2008, Kunsthaus Bregenz.

      Forged Drawing is comprised of four distinct geometric forms forged in steel and are similar while simultaneously being nothing like the artist’s signature style. In 2008, Serra noted: “These are the building blocks which most forged products can be traced back to. I thought it would be worth the effort to point out that the circle, rectangle, octagon, and square are the graphic elements from which everything a blacksmith forges derives. I interpreted this literally and re-presented this idea by hanging the steel forms on the wall and covering their surfaces with a paintstick.”i

      Shape holds a special meaning for Serra, as he describes it as “The weight of the drawing doesn’t derive from the number of layers of paintstick but from the shape of the drawing. A square for example, carries more weight as a mass than does a rectangle…. Shapes themselves refer to their internal masses…Different shapes displace different amounts of weights and volumes given the character of their mass.”ii And in Forged Drawings the sense of mass is exuded through line and shape (much like a drawing) as well as through actual physical mass (much like a sculpture).


      This juxtaposition of Serra’s two practices makes Forged Drawing so distinctive in his oeuvre. The work was created in 2008 following a version of the work the artist envisioned in 1977. It was executed on the occasion of a major exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, where it was exhibited. Museum director Eckhard Schneider noted: “With his “Forged Drawing,” which was created especially for Bregenz, Serra picks up on a work series from the seventies and eighties. It deals with steel masses in each of the four basic shapes… Serra’s programmatic drawing concept of connecting body awareness with material and integrating both visual and tactile perception allows the viewer to experience a densified, intensified space in connection with densified, materialized time.”iii


      i Richard Serra Drawings I Work Comes Out of Work, exh.cat, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, 2008.

      ii Richard Serra, Tekeningen/Drawings 1971-1977, exh.cat, Sedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1977, unpaged.   

      iii Ibid. 

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Thomas Schütte


Alina Szapocznikow