May 20, 2007

Richard Serra

I know I've talked about the magnificence of Richard Serra's enormous steel sculpture, about being alone with three of them at Dia Beacon upriver from NYC (museum was about to close when I remembered what I'd wanted to see most had been saved for the last and nearly forgotten, so I rushed back, trying not to get lost in the maze, was able to spend maybe five minutes walking around and through these womb like spaces... eyes darting, fighting vertigo, moving, moving, in, out, around... and with only the guard who kept his distance. It was total!

MOMA's putting up a new installation of his work but I bet few will find the solitude and deep joy experienced that late winter afternoon in Beacon, NY. MOMA will crawl with people, jostling as they wander in every direction... and the noise! I think I'll skip it, but it is fun to read about the installation process. Great NYTimes article with video.

A quote from NYT's article:

Mr. Serra, 67, says that as far as he knows he has missed only one of these installations, last year, thoroughly against his will, while recovering from knee surgery. It genuinely puzzles him when people ask if he always feels the need to be involved in the moving and placing of his pieces.

“Some painters don’t even hang their own shows — I never understood it,”


THAT, my friends... THAT is what I've done wrong. He is so right! I have assumed others would know the space better (possibly) and feel I was intruding. Maybe I'd have hung the work very similarly, and in most cases, I've found no fault with the way a show has been presented. But sometimes... sometimes I should have been been more involved. I should at least have been present and offered an opinion. I never have. Never. Rats!


Joanie San Chirico said...

I read that last night and thought the same thing. Isn't a presentation of our paintings, textiles, whatever media, a work of art in itself? How many times have I seen my work hung and have been disappointed at how it was done?

What a simple idea, and yet I never thought of it myself for the same reasons as you,, didn't want to be the prima donna, the difficult artist, etc.

Obviously, I also need to get back to NYC to see Serra's work too!

Olga said...

It's a balancing act, feeling grateful to a gallery or whatever for choosing one's work at all, and the desire to present it in the way it deserves. Perhaps we women defer too much, because often the gallery itself really would like the input.

On the other hand one cannot be everywhere, and it must be a case of knowing the gallery/venue and trusting the curators, based on previous experience.

How I wish I could visit the Serras.

KJ said...

I've always felt that in composing a body of work for a show, you create nuances between one piece and another that are easily overlooked by someone who is seeing the work for the first time and places it according to their own considerations. That's probably not a bad thing since they are more familiar with their space and what works, but still...

I'd probably be a real detriment to the hanging process as I usually try three different versions before deciding on the one that works best and then likely to change my mind again.

Rayna said...

Hanging a show is an art in itself; I've been present on more than one occasion where I needed to put my two cents in and make sure adjacent pieces talked to one another. I shudder to think if I hadn't insisted on being there...

Christina said...

I also read the Serra article. Karen, I loved your description of your experience in a Serra maze. I think his active presence at installation is very absorbing for him on many levels. He talked about seeing relationships between the planes of his work and space that he could not see in the models. It often sparks ideas for new pieces. He also feels very responsible for presenting the work in the way he perceived it and for the safety of the workers and viewers. I do not know if I could go on with the work that I love if a fatal tragedy resulted after an installation. It reminds me of a short story, The Benchmark, by Michael Dorris, deceased husband of Louise Erdrich. The main character was a pond maker. His favorite child drowned in one of his pond creations. The story is how life goes on.