(American, b. 1938)

American artist Richard Serra was born in San Francisco, California on November 2, 1938. Serra worked in steel mills as a young teen before studying English literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He later enrolled at Yale University to study painting, where he earned both his BFA and MFA. At Yale, Serra was exposed to the work of visiting Conceptualist and Abstract Expressionist artists including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella. A 1964 Fulbright grant allowed Serra to travel to Paris in the year following his graduation, where he paid daily visits to the reconstruction of modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s studio.

Upon returning to the States, Serra began to show with New York’s Leo Castelli Gallery, where he held his first solo exhibition in 1968. His sculptures, drawings, and video works now grace a wide set of international sites and museum collections. He has held major solo exhibitions at venues including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Dia Center for the Arts, New York; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Serra currently lives and works on the North Folk of Long Island in New York.

Often considered alongside the Post-Minimalist and Process Art movements, Serra is well known for his large-scale, site-specific sculptures made of untreated steel. The artist’s works have been installed in a wide variety of rural landscapes and urban public spaces. Serra considers his artworks’ sites to be integral to the works themselves, once famously proclaiming, “to remove the work is to destroy the work.” Serra has also created numerous performance, video, drawing, and print works that address themes such as subjectivity, process, and temporality. His 1991 sculpture, Seattle Right Angles Propped, is located in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center Courtyard.


Written by Lizzie Smith, AB 2019


Works on Campus