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Press Release

Richard Serra

Works on Paper

October 25, 2011 – January 14, 2012


John Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present Richard Serra: Works on Paper, an exhibition of works on paper, oil stick drawings, gravures, and etchings, all of which were published by the sculptor and printmaker’s preferred print workshop, Los Angeles-based Gemini G.E.L. The exhibition will occupy the second floor of the gallery space, and coincides with Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art October 15 – January 16, 2012. 


Richard Serra says about his drawing “Drawing gives me an immediate return for my effort and the result is commensurate with my involvement. It is an activity that requires solitude, it is the most concentrated space in which I work.” Throughout his career, Serra has made drawings as separate, immediate, and fundamental lines of investigation to his sculptures. They are explorations in their own right, integral to the overall concerns of his sculptural practice, and unique intuitive explorations within their own established criteria. Using black paintstick or oilstick, heated to a viscous and sometimes fluid state, he creates elemental forms through direction action on the paper and the accretion of medium. Serra has also reinvigorated the traditional etching medium, using deeply bitten plates to create expressive gestural forms. Richard Serra's Gemini work has progressed from relatively planar images in his early expressive lithographs to prints with a deeper and more articulated relief found through explorations in increasingly sophisticated screenprint and intaglio techniques. Thick, black ink is evenly applied to deeply etched copper plates to create the highly textured and minimalist prints. These prints, on a grand scale, are evidence of this Serra’s continued ability to convey on paper the weight and monumentality of his sculpture.


Born in 1939, Richard Serra is one of the most significant artists of his generation. Serra was born in San Francisco and he went on to study English literature at the University of California, Berkeley and later at the University of California, Santa Barbara between 1957 and 1961. He helped support himself by working in steel mills, which was to have a strong influence on his later work. He also names the San Francisco shipyard where his father worked as a pipe-fitter as another important influence. Serra’s sculpture explores the exchange between artwork, site, and viewer. He has produced unparalleled large-scale, site-specific sculptures for architectural, urban and landscape settings. Recent projects include the eight-part permanent installation The Matter of Time at the Guggenheim Bilbao (2005) and a survey exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007), twenty years after his first survey there in 1986. In 2008 he installed Promenade, a course of five massive vertical steel elements, each towering more than fifty feet, at the Grand Palais in Paris for the MONUMENTA exhibition. In the same year, a survey of his drawings from 1989-2008 entitled "Richard Serra: Drawings--Work Comes Out of Work" was exhibited at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria. Colby College recently acquired 150 works on paper by Serra, making it the second largest collection of Serra's work outside of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His current drawing retrospective, organized by the Menil Collection, opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in April 2011, and after SFMOMA hosts the exhibition, it will travel to the Menil Collection, Houston in 2012. Serra lives in Tribeca, New York and on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.