I use black because it is a color that doesn’t transport elusive emotions.
Gagosian is pleased to present “Rifts,” an exhibition of recent drawings by Richard Serra. The Rifts get their name from the distinctive white shapes—elongated triangles—that punctuate their otherwise unrelenting tarmac blackness, and perhaps from the geological term for a rent in the earth’s surface caused by moving tectonic plates. These sharp-edged triangular rifts are negative shapes, the white of the blank paper. An invention in drawing but one demanding their own rigor, they happen at the junction of two sheets of paper.
The stringent intelligible structures of the Rift Drawings obstruct us from seeing their white divisions expressively as other kinds of rupture—psychological, historical, ontological. Yet minimal metaphors of drawing remain: tension, balance, presence, space. The imposing scale and gross materiality of the Rifts hover just long enough on this border, perhaps, to make us more conscious of the operations of metaphor in our relationship to drawing.
The first Rifts date from 2011, and were shown at The Menil Collection, Houston, in 2012, and at Gagosian Paris, London, and Los Angeles, 2013–2017.
In 2011, a major publication focusing on Serra’s drawings, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, was published by The Menil Collection; and in 2017, Richard Serra: Drawings 2015–2017 was published by Gagosian and Steidl on the occasion of the exhibition “Richard Serra: Drawings 2015–2017: Rambles, Composites, Rotterdam Verticals, Rotterdam Horizontals, Rifts” at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Richard Serra was born in 1938, in San Francisco, and lives and works in New York. Collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Dia Art Foundation, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Broad, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Exhibitions of Serra’s drawings have been held at museums and institutions internationally, including “Richard Serra: tekeningen = drawings : 1971-1977,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1977); “Richard Serra: Drawings/Zeichnungen, 1969-1990,” Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (1990); “Richard Serra: Drawings,” Serpentine Gallery, London (1992); “Richard Serra, Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2008); “Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2011, travelled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and The Menil Collection, Houston); “Richard Serra: Drawings for The Courtauld,” The Courtauld Gallery, London (2013); and “Richard Serra: Drawings 2015–2017,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2017).
Serra participated in Documenta in 1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987; and La Biennale di Venezia in 1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013. In 2008 he presented Promenade for the Monumenta commission at the Grand Palais in Paris; and in 2005, The Matter of Time(1994–2005), a series of eight monumental sculptures, was installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. In 2014, East-West/West-East (2014) was permanently installed in the desert of the Brouq Nature Reserve in western Qatar.
Since 1983, Gagosian has presented more than twenty-five major exhibitions of Serra’s work in the U.S. and Europe, including “Intersection II” (Gagosian New York, 1993); “Switch,” which inaugurated Gagosian West 24th Street, New York in 1999; “Wake, Blindspot, Catwalk, Vice-Versa” (Gagosian New York, 2003); “Junction/Cycle” (Gagosian New York, 2011); “Drawings” (Gagosian Paris, 2011–12); “Double Rifts” (Gagosian Beverly Hills, 2013); “New Sculpture” (Gagosian New York, 2013–14); the concurrent exhibitions “Backdoor Pipeline, Ramble, Dead Load, London Cross” and “Drawing” (Gagosian London, 2014–15); “Ramble Drawings” (Gagosian New York and Paris, 2015–16); “Above Below Betwixt Between, Every Which Way, Silence (For John Cage), Through,” and “NJ-1” (Gagosian New York, 2016); and “Drawings” and “NJ-2, Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, Rotate,” (Gagosian London, 2016).
Serra has been awarded numerous accolades, including a Fulbright Grant (1965); National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1974); The Carnegie Prize (1985); Praemium Imperiale, Japan Arts Association (1994); Leone d’Oro, La Biennale di Venezia (2001); and the Alexej von Jawlensky Prize, City of Wiesbaden (2017), among others.
In 2008 Serra was made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France, and in 2015 he became a Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur for an “exceptional contribution to art, past, present, and future.” In September 2018, Serra will accept the J. Paul Getty Medal, which honors extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts.