Friday, August 24, 2007

to lift

I came late to Richard Serra, through Torqued Ellipses at the original DIA . My father was in town. He's an engineer and I was kind of challenging him by including the exhibition on our itinerary (Eddie Izzard was another highlight). But he absolutely flayed me not only with his fascination and insights as an engineer (which absurdly I hadn't anticipated), but also with his spontaneous personal engagement. It felt, in a way, more honest than my own. A few years later I was back in New York and so was he, and we went up to the then-new DIA-Beacon, to revisit the work. It was so very different, the skin had turned from smoother black to mottlier copper and you approach them by going down stairs, where the light is dimmer and the experience more sombre than it was in the white Chelsea gallery.

Today I went to the MoMA retrospective. I had never seen the earlier work (on the 6th floor) and it was kind of disappointing at first-- the evidence of evolution breaks the spell (and Belts' Dan Flavin fillip really made me cringe)-- but of course it was a healthy thing to do as my crush was entirely inapposite to begin with (see: father, above). Which didn't inure me to the enchantment of the new work, particularly Sequence:

vertiginous veil
a secret in the open
my future ruin

and Torqued Ellipse IV:

excised from a womb of steel
patch of sky above

sclerotic armour
abandoned who knows when, finds
a new occasion

Richard Serra Retrospective, MoMA

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