Thursday, June 28, 2007

Season of Serra...

...and you thought it was the summer of love. Power, thrust; gargantuan displays of steely brilliance that tilt and pitch, vertiginous when looking up (and up). Immovable and moving. Serra has taken the idea of the "Torqued Elipses" and transposed them. So we have "Sequence", two interwoven figure-8s that one walks through, perambulating in wonder and awe. Actually, the viewer walks among as well as through. A pilgrim's path. One pierces the piece by physically penetrating its open space. ("I consider space to be a material.") A vacancy filled (you know, like having sex). The action becomes the interaction.Two other mammoth pieces occupy the second floor-"Band", an undulating sweep of 70' of rolled steel plates, and "Torqued Torus Inversion." Walking the length of the former, the acolyte enters and exits the swoops (and yet there are bottlenecks). The latter is a duet of opposites.

That Serra continually surprises me no longer surprises me.

The second floor pieces are the showstoppers (oh baby oh baby) but the sixth floor work provides the backstory, Serra's evolving interest in mass and space. Balance (and balance of power), too. The viewer enters by strolling upon that red carpet of plate steel, "Delineator". You don't have to step on it, of course, it's sited such that the consciencious museum-goer sidesteps it. Easy to miss the matching (but swiveled 90ยบ) plate installed in the ceiling. What a sandwich (space as everyman's air?). Go to the prop pieces. Plates of lead, rolls of lead, propped. By themselves, using the wall or each other to remain upright. Studies in tension and weightlessness. They echo their times, 1969. Fascinating, and really cool to see so many of them. They keep each other fine company behind a glass fence.

Verdict: the blockbuster show of the summer. Big, beefy (grass-fed), brawny and butch; delicate, elegant: potent. MOMA's money shot.

Richard Serra, Sculpture: Forty Years, at MOMA
through Sept 10

p.s. It doesn't hurt that the newer stuff is stunningly beautiful. That surface of variegated rust: frozen waterfalls, lightning bolts, an araura borealis in burnt sienna. The feeling of being in the lee of an overhang, a feeling of shelter. In the sculpture garden, the texture of "Intersection II" is juxtaposed with the marble floor. One pocked, the other smooth and striated. Lovely.


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