Thursday, October 20, 2011


‘The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building." Louis Kahn

...And I would add or the side of Junction / Cycle  a sculpture by Richard Serra currently on view in NYC.

I recently saw a fantastic documentary on the  Modernist photographer Julius Shulman titled Visual Acoustics. His iconic photographs of Nuetra, Niemeyer, Kahn and many more defined the sensibility of the time and fed back into the way the architects themselves defined space. Many of the buildings he photographed were destroyed or fell into disrepair and it is only through his photos that we remember them or that they could be accurately restored.

I am thinking of Julius Shulman as I walk through the Richard Serra exhibition at Gagosian Gallery on 23rd St. in Chelsea. I have seen several great Serra exhibitions but this exhibition was transcending. And as I walked through admiring the patina of the massive steel slabs and the slope of the orange rust waves I wondered "How would Julius Shulman photograph this?" And also, "any photo of this installation would be a great photo" because there are no bad angles. But there are bad photographers! I am no photographer but it was easy to feel like one amidst this work. 

It must be extremely difficult to transform an interior space with the simple inclusion of a few objects into a completely different space - into a work of art. No matter the scale of the objects those objects (sculptures) still read as objects residing in an interior space, they are biding time in a temporary dwelling. The Temple of Dendur at the Met feels that it has been placed there even if it has been well placed. The Temple of Dendur is renting.

Richard Serra's work Junction / Cycle in this mammoth space does not make the space seem small, or swallow up the space or obliterate it. Instead the sculpture makes the mammoth gallery inconsequential - it is as if Serra were there first and the building was brought up around it, to protect it for a while. It is at this Junction and Cycle in the artist's career, his life, that if Serra's sculpture could be slipped into a coat pocket it would still be bigger than us.

No comments:

Post a Comment