Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Richard Serra’s Sequence

For my first bit of ‘culture’ in the new year, I checked out the Richard Serra installation at the Stanford museum. I can’t say enough how much I liked it. Richard Serra can be a bit hit or miss in my limited experience, but this one is great, a moebius-like double figure-eight of curved walls made out of Cor-ten steel; the steel walls form two open circular spaces surrounded by a narrow walkway. At first I thought Sequence was an odd name, but watching people walk through it, I realized that there is indeed an actual sequence to the piece, that everyone does the same thing in the same order. Everyone looks at the walls in the first open circle, then they walk through the outer figure-eight which has a disorienting feel as the walls sinuously narrow and widen, then in the second open space everyone stares up at the sky, and then when they walk back again through the outer figure-eight they tend to keep looking upwards at the sky. As you follow the sequence, you can feel it change from an object to a space around you.

There’s a slideshow with some great photos at Stanford University News and a time-lapse of the installation at Daily Serving. It’s going to be at the Stanford museum for five years before eventually moving permanently to the SFMOMA to a new wing that is under construction, but this time of year, with the sun lower in the sky so you can look up and not be blinded, is a good time to see it.

5 Responses to “Richard Serra’s Sequence”

  1. January 13th, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Scott says:

    I fully agree about him being “hit or miss”…didn’t he have that sculpture in NYC that was loathed from the moment it was installed…’Tilted Edge’, or something like that? Anyway, this is lovely…really interesting, love sculpture than interacts with people.

  2. January 13th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    ryan says:

    Tilted Arc, that was him. I think the workers in the building petitioned to have it taking out, claiming it had made the plaza ‘unusable.’ He has one in Mission Bay that is two giant pieces of steel sticking up into the air. It’s cool in a Soviet-era relic kind of way, but I still don’t really get it. But this one at Stanford is awesome.

  3. January 14th, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Country Mouse says:

    I really have to spend time at that museum. I work just a couple miles from it. I love the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture there – I’m SURE you know it. The disappearing wiggly stone wall. I’m becoming more and more frank in an “Emperor has no clothes” way about my reaction to most modern art. Not that I think I’m right that a piece is rubbish necessarily – but being honest that I have no response to it, and questioning its validity hoping for help in “getting it.” Or not. But certain pieces do affect me. I believe there is a Richard Serra piece in SFMOMA that sticks with me – the molten metal crashing against the corner of a room one. Wonder if it’s still there. Haven’t been up in a couple years. I don’t know why I like it but I do. I know why I like T.S. Eliot or Keats or Emily Dickinson, e.g., but visual art is more difficult for me in general. I like what you day about this piece, its experiential effect, being in it and going through it. I will definitely get over there next week! (BTW I just noticed a comment of yours “requiring moderation” – weird and don’t know why that should be – anyway I just OKed it and responded – it was on the post about novel landscapes.

  4. January 15th, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    ryan says:

    I have some photos of that Goldsworthy wall that I’ll post sometime. I almost put it in with this post but decided they should be separate. I know what you mean about abstract art. I think the experiential effect is important for me. I like that you get to walk inside this Richard Serra piece and around or on that Andy Goldsworthy wall.

  5. December 21st, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    DryStoneGarden » Blog Archive » James Turrell Skyspace says:

    […] feeling of the space, staring up at the sky, reminds me of the giant Cor-ten double-moebius by Richard Serra that I posted a couple of years ago. There’s a nice photo on the De Young […]

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