- Richard Serra
Cor-Ten Steel in 3 plates
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Nagoya
Ace Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in July 2000
Nagoya, Akira Ikeda Gallery, Richard Serra: New Sculpture, June - July 1983
In a recent interview with Kynaston McShine, Richard Serra commented: "... I always thought [steel] was the most traditional material you could use, and that if you used steel you had to acknowledge the tradition of sculpture." Unlike his predecessors, however, Serra critically examined the physical properties of the raw material and recognized its "tectonic potential, its weight, its compression, its mass, its stasis" (Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Richard Serra. Sculpture: Forty Years. A conversation about Work with Richard Serra, New York, 2006, p. 28.)
The present work, 12-4-8, executed in 1983, is exemplary of the artist's group of works known as Props. Begun in the late 1960s, and a related composition One Ton Prop (House of Cards), 1969 in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. With the Props, Serra liberated his sculpture from the traditional relationship of sculpture and base, as well as from the historical methods of carving and casting. In 12-4-8, three 5 foot square steel plates are arrayed in a star-like formation, leaning against each other and achieving stability from the exertion and tension of the weight of each towards the others. Serra creates cohesion and solidity through "the conflict and balance of forces" (Ibid., p. 20). Some Props engage with one or two walls in their balanced compositioning, but the present work and One Ton Prop are free-standing and independent, achieving equilibrium or risking destabilization within themselves like a ``house of cards''.
12-4-8 is similar in composition to the four steel plates of Inverted House of Cards, 1969 in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. One Ton Prop (House of Cards) is a closed formation of four steel plates in a square format, touching only at the top corners of each plate. 12-4-8 and Inverted House of Cards are open formations where the plates meet at the center in a diametrically opposed relationship to the space around them. The interior void contracts while it also turns outward. As Serra commented, "I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct." (Ibid, p. 77).