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In the frame | Richard Serra

Richard Serra is renowned as one of the most influential sculptors of our time. Here, Hugues Sébilleau, Post War and Contemporary Art Director of Artcurial, takes us through what makes the artist's work on paper just as evocative

Richard Serra is one of the most important, if not the most important, sculptor from the second half of the 20th century to the present day.

He worked at a steelworks from a young age, and discovered the work of Brancusi in the early 1960s, both helping to define his development as an artist.

Confronting Serra's monumental sculptural works allows us to understand his importance, it is a unique experience; sensory but also unsettling.

He handles paradoxes: finesse and balance, lightness and steel, mass and power.

There is also an ever-present feeling of a house of cards, a fragile structure on the verge of collapsing, as only the simple fact of gravity anchors his works to the ground.

In my opinion, it is this masterful confrontation of minimalism with power – whether in his sculptures or his graphic work – that gives him the status of a major artist.

Serra handles paradoxes: finesse and balance, lightness and steel, mass and power.

'Judgments on a sheet' (1973) [pictured above] is, above all, a historical piece at a crossroads. In 1973, having used various materials in his minimalist research in the 1960s, Serra turned to steel.

During this period, he also began experimenting with paper. He did this first using charcoal and "paintstick", followed by "Oilstick" at the beginning of the 1980s, which would allow him to saturate the space of his papers with a deep bitumen black.

The paradox of minimalism and power are omnipresent, and his ability to obtain an immediate result with these works on paper make them essential preliminary sketches to his sculptures.

'Judgments on a sheet' is therefore a major work, an original of his works on paper, and very rare on the market.

This is evident in the final bid obtained at this sale on December 3, 2019, which reached €1,260,000 with fees, far extending the estimate of €150,000 / €200,000.

Very early and important pieces such as 'Judgments on a sheet' have not been offered on the market for a long time. It was therefore necessary to reasonably estimate the work in order to make the most of its very strong potential, knowing that today, collectors do not let such a piece pass without giving themselves a real chance to acquire it.

ST. LOUIS IV 1982 by Richard Serra

To find Richard Serra pieces at auction, see artcurial.com

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