A Richard Serra retrospective

Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker:

Screenhunter_06_jun_06_1454When I think of Richard Serra’s work as art, or of art as what Richard Serra does, a bracing bleakness descends, like that of a stern northern region, where people live gladly, while under no illusion that it’s the isle of Capri. Serra’s mostly magnificent retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art proves that he is not only our greatest sculptor but an artist whose subject is greatness befitting our time. He works at the physical scale of architecture and at the intellectual scale of art history as a whole. The degree of his undoubted success is immeasurable, because nothing really relates to it. The enveloping austerities of Carl Andre and Dan Flavin—Serra’s minimalist forebears in the nineteen-sixties, when five years was a generation—come closest, but compared with his work theirs is parlor décor. His art affords no handle as easy, or as ingratiating, as “style.” Consciousness of Serra’s furious ambition—an arbitrary force, like weather—addles both analysis and aesthetic response. My comprehension of his tons of shaped steel always feels inadequate to their conceptual subtlety, engineering sophistication, and, oh my, size. Taking a childlike view may be the best way to relax with and, to the extent possible, enjoy Serra’s art. Don’t try to understand. Play.

More here.  [Thanks to Timothy Don.]