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Richard Serra (1939-)
1968, refabricated 2007
Lead antimony and steel
Overall: 89 1/2 × 60 × 54 in. (227.3 × 152.4 × 137.2 cm)
Cast by D'Huart Industrie
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc.
Rights and Reproductions Information
© 2009 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In the 1960s, Richard Serra used industrial materials to explore the physical conditions of making and viewing sculpture. In 1967, he began composing a list of verbs: “to roll, to crease, to fold, to bend.” He then subjected various pliable materials such as lead, latex, and vulcanized rubber to these verbal actions, examining the results to see which turned out to be a viable work of art. He was particularly interested in the behavior and logic of his material—most often lead—and described his working method as “figuring out what lead does.” For Prop, Serra rolled an 8 x 8 foot sheet of lead into a pole form, which he then used to prop a 5 x 5-foot square lead sheet against the wall. The work relies on the perpendicular supports of the floor and wall for its construction, creating a tenuous balance of thrust and counterthrust. This sustained tension and possibility of collapse imposes on viewers a heightened awareness of their physical environment and personal vulnerability.