Almost Human: Richard Serra

by Paddy Johnson and Matthew Leifheit on January 29, 2014 The L Magazine


This week at the L Magazine, I wonder about the artistic value of awe. I search for a scrap of humanity in Richard Serra’s steel, which has been crane-lifted into the Gagosian empire:

All that reverence and awe can get a little tedious, though, and that’s particularly true with Serra, who has been making the same work for almost 30 years. After having spent 15 years “being moved” by it—and I say that earnestly—you stop believing that the pious goals of high art have any tangible effect on the real world. Add to this that the show at Gagosian’s W. 24th Street location (through March 15) is made up of some smaller, less effective work, and you start to wonder why we still care about Serra at all. In one room there’s a long zigzag of thick metal sheets you can walk between; the pieces don’t lean, nor are they particularly overwhelming in size, so they don’t do much to activate the space. In another room, all we’re presented with is a labyrinth of short steel slabs. I still don’t know what I was supposed to take away from that.

Overall, it was the utter dearth of humanity that stood out the most.

To read the full piece, click here.

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