Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl
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The energetic ellipses of Richard Serra’s "Finally Finished" intertwine and undulate in a way that could suggest weightlessness, but their dense blackness, created with etching ink, anchors them down on earth. Each interlocking ellipse spins out splatters of ink, capturing traces of Serra’s aggressive mark-making. The deeply etched copper plates used in their printing create a highly textured surface, and the tremendous scale of these prints (each is 75 x 60 inches) certainly reminds one of Serra’s massive torqued ellipse sculptures which are most often installed in site-specific public settings. Known for his tireless work ethic and prolific output, Serra engages in the thoughtful process of editing, especially when proofing a massive series of plates for publication; some are simply, often inexplicably, left out. The title is a sly nod to the fact that the origins of at least one of these images dates back several years, to a tour-de-force series of "Torqued Ellipse" prints from 1999, and it is a testament to the long, close relationship between Serra and Gemini Master Printer Xavier Fumat that this series came to fruition.
Image: Detail of Richard Serra's Finally Finished IV, 2018
The prints are the result of trying to assess and define what surprises me in a sculpture, what I could not understand before a work was built. They enable me to understand different aspects of perception as well as the structural potential of a given sculpture.
Serra’s etchings recreate in another medium the kinetic experiencing of his sculpture, rephrasing the temporal and spatial understanding of it. Serra’s prints are never preliminary renderings for sculptures nor duplications of them. He thinks of the prints and other works on paper as “distillations” of his reactions to the work, assisting to “define what surprises me in a sculpture.” Serra derived the swirling spheres, ellipses and arched bands of his prints, in part, from his aerial views and photographs of the torqued sculptures of this period.
-Richard H. Axsom
Richard Serra working on ‘ellipse’ print in the Gemini G.E.L. workshop (photo © Sidney B. Felsen)
Richard Serra in the artists’ studio at Gemini G.E.L. (photo © Sidney B. Felsen)
Richard Serra was born in 1938 in San Francisco and lives and works in New York and the North Fork of Long Island. Since the early 1970s, Serra has had countless solo exhibitions in galleries and major museums in the United States and abroad, including two retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1986 and 2007), and a traveling retrospective dedicated to the artist’s drawings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Menil Collection, Houston (which was the organizing venue) (2011-2012). Serra’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including documenta (1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987), in Kassel, Germany; the Venice Biennales of 1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s annual and biennial exhibitions of 1968, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1995, and 2006. Serra has created major site-specific sculptures for public and private venues worldwide; the most notable public installations include The Matter of Time (2005), a series of eight large-scale works by dating from 1994 to 2005, installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Promenade, shown at the Grand Palais, Paris, for MONUMENTA 2008; the 2011 site-specific sculpture 7, permanently installed opposite the Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, Qatar; and East-West/West-East, 2014, installed in the Brouq Nature Reserve in the Zekreet desert, Qatar. Serra has been the recipient of many notable prizes and awards, including a Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement, Venice Biennale, Italy (2001); Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Republic of France (2015); and, most recently, a J. Paul Getty Medal (2018) awarded in honor of extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts.