Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective / press release

Richard Serra, Taraval Beach, 1977
Paintstick on Belgian linen, Shown installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art,
Whitney Biennial, Collection of the artist, Richard Serra © 2010 Artist Rights Society (ARS),
New York

Photo: BeVan Davies

March 2, 2012 – June 10, 2012

The first-ever retrospective of the artist’s drawings, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, will be the first major one-person exhibition organized by the Menil Drawing Institute and Study Center.

Though his sculptures have been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, Richard Serra’s drawings – crucial to his work for more than forty years – have never received a critical overview. This exhibition of works, drawn from major European and American public and private collections, will trace Serra’s investigation of drawing as an activity both independent of and linked to his sculptural practice. Organized chronologically, it will address significant shifts in concept, materials, and scale, and will culminate with new, never-before-exhibited large-scale works.

In the early 1970s Serra drew on paper primarily with ink, charcoal, and lithographic crayon, using such sketches to explore form and perceptual relations between an envisioned sculpture and the viewer. Over the years they evolved into autonomous works of art, bold forms created with black paintstick that exploded beyond the boundaries of the paper support.

In the mid 1970s, Serra made the first of his monumentally scaled Installation Drawings, bringing radical scale and technique to an architectural context. Working on site, he attached Belgian linen directly to the wall and with vigorous and repetitive gestures applied paintstick that had been melted down and recast in large, heavy blocks.

Over the last twenty-five years Serra has continued to invent new drawing techniques. In the late 1980s he explored how to further articulate the tension of weight and gravity by placing pairs of overlapping sheets of paper saturated with paintstick in horizontal and vertical compositions. In his most recent work he has embarked on numerous series with a remarkable variety of surface effects.

Serra is among a significant group of artists whose transformative work irrevocably changed the practice and definition of modernist drawing, and challenged drawing’s role in the traditional hierarchy of media.

Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, is organized by curators Bernice Rose, Michelle White and Gary Garrels and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring several original, scholarly texts.

The exhibition will travel to
The Metropolitan Museum of Art April 13 - August 28, 2011,
followed by The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art October 15, 2011- January 16, 2012.

This exhibition is generously supported by Laura and John Arnold, National Endowment for the Arts, Sotheby’s, Eddie Allen and Chinhui Juhn, the Frances Dittmer Family Foundation, Paul and Janet Hobby, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Clare Casademont and Michael Metz, Invesco, Janie C. Lee and David B. Warren, eEvents Group LLC, Scott and Judy Nyquist, Michael Zilkha, and the City of Houston.
The Menil Collection would also like to thank Gagosian Gallery for graciously providing funds toward the production of the accompanying catalogue.