Lot 13
  • 13

RICHARD SERRA | Study for Flat Rock

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Richard Serra
  • Study for Flat Rock
  • signed with the artist's initials
  • paintstick on paper 
  • 38 x 50 inches


Blum Helman Gallery, New York
Collection of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner


The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Vancouver Art Gallery; Calgary, The Nickle Arts Museum; New York, Seagram Building; Ontario, London Regional Art Gallery, Drawings by Sculptors: Two Decades of Non-Objective Art in the Seagram Collection, May 1984 - June 1985, p. 57, illustrated


Hans Janssen, Ed., Richard Serra Drawings 1969-1990/Catalogue Raisonné, Bern 1990, cat. no. 193, p. 232, illustrated

Catalogue Note

“My intention had been to forge a single two step shaped work, which would relate directly to an early drawing done in Peru of a flat rock. Once I began the process of forging I realized that to complete the work, a balanced structure of two elements would carry the idea of the ‘flat rock’ to its conclusion. Bilbao, made in the Basque Country, is the resultant sculpture.” 

Richard Serra

Richard Serra’s early and significant Study for Flat Rock unlocks the sculptural quality of drawing, communicating a surface and weight that exceeds the standard possibilities for a work on paper. Serra deftly employs textural and tonal modulation using a paintstick, rendering a form that takes on a dimensional surface and mass. The work has a presence that alters the space it inhabits with a deep black absorbing light, luring the eye with a gravitational pull. Despite its absorptive darkness, Study for Flat Rock is not domineering; Serra skillfully balances the black form with an almost equal amount of white negative space, creating a sense of equilibrium and refreshing lightness as contrast. While initially intended as a study for a never-realized sculpture that Serra envisioned, Study for Flat Rock eventually inspired Serra’s cor-ten steel sculpture, Bilbao, and his original drawing endures as a composition on paper that defies the limits of its medium.  In the words of Michelle White, drawings like Study for Flat Rock are “perceptual, experiential, and conceptual; [they are] a way to see, feel, and think” (Michelle White in” Drawing as Drawing” in Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, The Menil Collection, Houston 2011, p. 13).