Richard Serra: Torqued Ellipses


The unit: 16′ tall sheets (or 13′ x 50′ according to this graphic from the Detroit blog)
Parameters: Varying the angle at which the units are set to one another, modifying the overall proportions, introducing a second component within the first.

early process sketches

process sketch, plan viewprocess sketch, plan view

Early process sketches.

small scale modelssmall scale models 2

Study models: Serra begins his process by making a small mockup model at an inch-to-foot ratio.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 3.18.59 PM

Installation Process: With the assistance of computer programs, Serra first calculates the of positions and angles at which sheets would need to be bent. To make the full scale sculpture a steel mill uses a specific type of roller, as well as plates that will hold the 16′ sheets.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 3.04.34 PMtorqued elipse- experiencetorqued ellipse copy

Conditions created: Ellipses are not aligned, but rather angled dramatically so as to create a unique (and perhaps disorienting) experience of space. Solid metal appears easy to shape and bend, as well as stable when they may appear to oppose/defy/fight gravity. Certain ellipses can be experienced differently, and to different extents, i.e. not accessible, partially accessible, or fully accessible.


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