Schlock Sculpture

Morgan Meis in The Easel:

When you look at the work of an artist like Richard Serra, or better yet, stand next to a classic Serra piece, you begin to understand how important the physical problem of balance and uprightness is for contemporary sculpture. Take one such classic work, Fulcrum (1987). The work consists of five fifty-five-foot tall slabs of COR-TEN steel. It dominates one of the entrances to the Liverpool Street station in London. Standing next to Fulcrum can be genuinely scary, all the more so when (and if) you realize that the huge slabs of steel are balanced one against the other simply by weight and angle. So, these slabs of steel can, theoretically, kill you. In fact, Serra’s sculptures have killed before and might do so again. Serra’s Sculpture No. 3 famously ended the life of a rigger named Raymond Johnson, who was crushed by it during installation at the Walker Art Center in 1977.

Hearing Serra talk about sculpture, it’s hard not to come away with the feeling that, while he has no desire directly to harm anyone with his art, he endorses a kind of aggressive and confrontational attitude toward artmaking. “Art, for the most part,” he has said, “is about concentration, solitude and determination.” The quietness of the steel versus the implied sense of power and violence-it is all part of the Richard Serra act.

More here.