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America’s Richard Serra, a renowned steel sculptor, passed away at the age of 85

27/03/2024

(Reuters) – According to the New York Times, American artist Richard Serra passed away on Tuesday. His massive steel sculptures, covered in a beautiful rust patina, adorned landscapes and filled expansive galleries at the best museums in the world. He was eighty-five.

According to the Times, which quoted the artist’s attorney John Silberman, the artist passed away from pneumonia at his Long Island, New York, residence.

According to his biographies at the Guggenheim Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Serra, who was born in 1938 to a Russian mother and a Spanish father, worked in steel mills as a young man and visited the naval shipyards where his father was employed.

Despite the size of his pieces, he was regarded as a minimalist artist who relied more on the artwork’s relationship to the observer and less on complex imagery to convey his ideas.

He attended Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley before relocating to New York in 1966, where he started creating art out of industrial materials including rubber, fibreglass, and metal.

One of his 1981 pieces was so negatively received that it was taken down from public view in Lower Manhattan, even though he would go on to become fairly popular, according to ARTnews.

“Tilted Arc,” a steel bar measuring 120 feet (36 metres) in length, is regarded as one of the most hated pieces of public art in the history of the city. People loathed it so much that in the end it was taken away,” ARTnews reported.

His inclusion in “Nine Young Artists: Theodoron Awards” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1969 marked a turning point in his career.

Early in the 1980s, he went to Spain to study Mozarabic architecture, and as a result, his work became well-known throughout Europe and he had solo exhibitions at significant institutions in Germany and France.

Serra’s art was particularly valued in his father’s home country of Spain, where he had an exhibition at the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and a 1992 retrospective of his work at the Reina Sofia museum.

He was characterised as a “stocky, powerful-looking man with a large head, a fringe of close-cropped grey hair, and black eyes whose intense stare reminds you of Picasso’s” in a 2002 New Yorker magazine profile titled “Man of Steel.”

The same painting described Serra’s realisation that he was not a painter after he saw Diego Velazquez’s “Las Meninas” (1656) at the Prado museum in Madrid.

Serra remarked, “It pretty much stopped me.” “I wasn’t halted by Cezanne, de Kooning, or Pollack, but Velazquez felt like a more formidable opponent. For me, that was like nailing the coffin on the artwork.”

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