Nerves of steel

Richard Serra, Fernando Pessoa, 2007

Richard Serra’s sculptures scare me. Well, sort of. When I stop to think about the weight of steel and the way they just stand there minding their own business but capable of crushing anything in their path should they choose to fall, then they scare me. Mostly I just kind of marvel at the scale of them and at the quiet way they hold their immense power in check.

Though I really liked everything in Serra’s exhibition at Gagosian in London in 2008, ultimately for me it was all about two works. The first of these, Fernando Pessoa, is a simple wall of steel. It just stands there, unsupported. The wall is ten inches thick, any less and it would be at risk of toppling over. As it is, it just looks like it could fall. It’s an extraordinary presence in the space, bisecting the room but becoming almost nothing when seen end on.

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