Richard Serra has consistently and rigorously probed issues fundamental to sculpture over a career now spanning almost five decades. In the late 1960s he introduced “process” into his sculptural practice, by making explicit the means of his production. Between 1967 and 1968 Serra penned a list of transitive verbs that defined actions—examples include “to roll” “to prop” and “to bend”—which he applied to new and innovative materials to make sculptures. Serra’s Scatter Piece (1968), for example, consists of strips of rubber randomly distributed throughout the gallery, evidence of “to scatter.”
In this same period, Serra was also strongly affected by the work of a number of contemporary dancers, which prompted him to consider “ways of relating movement to material and space.” He soon began “to think about sculpture in an open and extended field, in a way that is precluded when dealing with sculpture as an autonomous object.” Three decades later, these concerns remained central to Serra’s Torqued Ellipses. These large-scale installations of contorted steel plates elaborate concerns with orientation and movement, destabilizing our experience of space as we attempt to comprehend each sculptural volume. They are part of Serra’s investigation into the embodied experience of perception. As he explained, “I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body’s movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement.”
Richard Serra: Torqued Ellipses
This catalogue captures the extraordinary first installation of the Torqued Ellipses by Richard Serra at Dia in September 1997.