- Sculpture vs Architecture.
- Sculpture + Architecture.
- Richard Serra / Frank Gehry.
- Landscape Architecture and Urbanism.
- Hans Ulrich Obrist as an artist critic.
- Rem Koolhaas as an architecture critic.
Curiously, it was Serra who provided Frank Gehry the background information about Bilbao before the architect had ever visited the city before he had to build the Guggenheim Museum. Gehry was very pleased to work in such a good condition city. He loved the site next to a river, he said: “it’s marvelous to be able to create a museum in this kind of setting”, refering to the river, its proximity to the sea and its nature surroundings.
They have a special relation, Serra says that his buildings never hit you as discolored artistic inventions or convention. He’s not an opportunist in his relationship with artists. He’s too respectful for that, His link with art its different: he is one of the few architects of this century who has incorporated the procedure and mental processes of a contemporary artistic creation into the world of architecture. In fact he has fused artistic creation with architecture. He is an artists’ architect.
- Known as “Man of steel”
- Process of Sculptures, at the beginning (1967-68) he did steel belts to achieve 3D forms, influenced by Gehry
- Steel sheets (250 pounds each, small-size sculptures) trying to understand a building’s foundation.
- His first Big scale sculptures were based on visual effects playing with same heights.
- 90s he starts doing what we all know nowadays, conical sections, etc.
- As architecture does, he looks at its inside and outside totally different. There’s nothing to be with both views. He create passages, vertical elevations and directionality, you never know where you are going to end. Confuse people, totally implicated with the sculpture that is moving as you move.
- The site dictates the scale and the form of the piece, that takes between 3 and 4 years to be done. The material also influences on the final shape and appearance. The corten-steel has a 10 years life degradation to reach its final color, a darker and flat color.
- He creates it in Germany with the same company as he started with (Son/father company). As he is not an engineer neither a mathematic this company helps him with his final sculptures.
- He explains why he doesn’t use glass or concrete and also he says that as you pass through the sculpture you can feel the coiling of the steel. He also appreciates the color that you finally achieve with the corten-steel.
- He was a painter just before he saw Velazquez painting when he saw that it interact with the public. People is looking at the painting and the painter in it was looking to the outside (people).
- He used to work in a studio until the day he run out of space and he started dealing with context, sometimes institutional spaces or urban landscapes.
A sculpture occupies space, a work of architecture is occupied by space. We can see a sculpture because the space outside it’s empty. We can see a work of architecture because the inside it’s empty. With both, our movement has the effect of changing the ratio of the apparent sizes of parts of the work, in the case of sculpture is the boundary between inside and outside seen from the outside. The shape of architecture is the boundary between inside and outside seen from the inside. Sculpture occupies a portion of our visual field, it disappears if we turn and face a different direction. Architecture appears in all direction and we cannot turn away from it. We can move around a sculpture but not going inside. We can move all within the work of architecture. At the center of architecture is our self and for sculpture is an unknown. The work of architecture is usually built in the place it will remain, while on sculpture can be anywhere.
I was very proud of myself because I spotted this Richard Serra sculpture without the help of a plaque, tour guide or book.
Running into it was a surprise, a terrific surprise for me because Serra is one of my favorite modern sculptors. I saw a retrospective of his in 2007 at the MoMA in NYC and was awed by the labyrinth-like quality of his sculptures and the way you feel like you are entering a time warp when you walk through his work. It’s sometimes dizzying but always interesting.
Like I said, there is nothing marking this sculpture as a Serra but after discovering it, walking through it then going home and google-ing it, it was confirmed…Serra it is. I mean I guess it’s not too hard to tell since the curves of his sculptures are very distinct.
Here on the southern end of Tiergarten Park in Berlin, Germany, right in front of the Berlin Philharmonic (that yellow, musical looking building in the background) is what I found…
Richard Serra: The first audience is the people involved in the process. That would be the steel engineers, the steel mill workers, and the riggers. I don’t make the sculpture particularly for them, but the riggers are the first audience. The people who put the work together know more about it than anyone else.
The second audience is the interpretive audience, whoever happens upon the work, as with the Maillart piece in Grandfey Viaduct in Switzerland. This particular work is accessible to anyone, whether you know anything about sculpture or not. It cannot be misread as part of the function of the bridge.
I think what has happened now is that instead of art dealing with invention of form, we have the reverse. We have art that is predicated on being the appropriate solution or entertainment. It has to do with the exchange value of the commodity — I’m not saying that site-specific works aren’t commodities — but as commodities they are nonstarters. Their circulation is by definition limited. I think most of the work being built right now is really predicated on secondary-market sales.
Ottmann: How do you define site-specificity? Not all your work is site-specific.
Serra: No, Some pieces are just generic. Usually my commissioned work is site-specific. I’ve just done two site specific installations, one in Munich — where I built seven pieces in seven rooms and one in Eindhoven, ten pieces for ten rooms. Most of the conical pieces I built are based on the relationship of one part to another, and all that is required is an open space and a flat floor. The problems that the cones present interest me in terms of the possibilities of invention. But if I had my druthers, my aspiration would be to build pieces for a given contexts — to try to open up a new way of seeing into those contexts. I don’t believe in affirmation and I don’t believe in complicity. That’s what’s wrong with prescripted or applied art …
Ottmann: You seem to be closer to architects and engineers than to other sculptors?
Serra: I’m interested in the clarity of building, in gravity, in the tendency to overturn, in the exactitude of measure, the addition and subtraction of weight, the rotation of weight. I’m interested in mass. I admire Mies and Corbusier for dealing with tectonics in a straight forward way. They extended their raw material whether concrete or steel to invent new forms. Most building doesn’t deal with invention in the engineering. It’s just cladding, putting a new physiognomy, a new face, on a building. Basically, Maillart and Sharoun still interest me. The history of sculpture has been limited by either modeling and casting or cutting and welding. From Gonzalez, Picasso, Smith, and Calder up to the present, sculpture has still dealt with a pictorial relation to the plane that may be of interest, but not to me. It seems a dead end. I am much more interested in the fundamentals of building, than in three dimensional pictoralism as sculpture
Ottmann: Didn’t classical sculptors like Michelangelo also experience that struggle with the material.
Serra: One of the things that are evident with sculptors is how they deal with weight, mass, and gravity. These are givens that you have to deal with. The question of gravity applies and defines the individual work no matter who the sculptor is. Consider Brancusi, Picasso, Giacometti, Calder, Smithson, or Judd. You can immediately see whether gravity/balance is an issue in their work or not, and whether or not it defines the content of their work. I tend to isolate particular aspects of weight, mass, and gravity.