I've been waiting for a long time to see some of Ricahrd Serra's larger works in person and I finally got the chance a couple of weeks ago. I was in New York with my fianceé to meet up with a friend of hers, along with visiting a couple of jewelry supply places for her and to see the Serra retrospective at MoMA.
We hit the sixth floor first, where the earlier works are shown. Some of the works up there hadn't been shown in years and most I hadn't seen in person. It's always kind of surreal to view artworks by iconic artists whose only contact I'd had was as reproductions in books and magazines. Incidentally, the first time I even found out about Richard Serra's work was toatlly by mistake. It was back in '90 and I was in New York for the first time with a former girlfriend. MoMA was on the agenda and I don't even know if it was a special exhibition, but I remember turning a corner, walking into a room and finding myself in the center of a piece I later came to know as Circuit, four steel plates situated in the corners of the space, bisecting the room diagonally with an open space in the center.
There were other works of his there that time, but Circuit II really made a lasting impression with it's sense of danger (collapse) and reassertion of how the space was navigated by the viewer(s), something that has been integral to Serra's work for years.
The earlier work took up the entire sixth floor and includes a good representation of the early 'prop' pieces, like Prop(1968) and One Ton Prop(House of Cards)(1969) in lead as well as works in rubber such as Belts(1966-67) and To Lift(1967).
The newer pieces in the cavernous space on the second floor, Sequend, Band, and Torqued Torus Inversion, all made in 2006 are amazing to behold. Band, is particualirly beautiful with it's 70-something feet of twisting curves with no interior space. It's like walking along a piece of ribbon standing on edge, except Band, like most of Serra's works, weighs tons. That these three huge works were even able to be put in the space together and not feel crowded seems like a miracle. It still messes with my mind to know how much tonnage is sitting there, looking much lighter than it is. Some of that also has to do with the oxidation that takes place. These works have a beautiful orange patina that can make you forget that you're standing next to and touching a material that is used in much more utilitarian ways, as in steel girders and other architectural substructures.
Photography isn't allowed inside, but if you're unfamiliar with Serra's work, the exhibition pages on MoMA's site will give a good overview (Flash 8 required). The two pieces in the sculpture garden, Intersection IV and Torqued Ellipse II were fair game and I tried to take as much advantage as I could (click images for larger views):
Torqued Ellipse IV