The Matter of Time

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Richard Serra, The Matter of Time, 2005
By KATHERINE GRABOWSKY

Richard Serra is a post-abstract expressionist artist who embraces minimalism with his large sculptures. Serra has created much controversy over the years but his sculptures are still widely popular all over the world. He is most known for working with large-scale steel panels and welding. Sculptures such as The Matter of Time created in 2005 have gained Serra much attention and have progressed his art career. It is constructed out of weathering steel, and when seen from afar, look like iron fossils from an ancient mechanic creature. The Matter of Time is an eight-part sculpture that sits in the largest gallery of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The sculpture contains another one of Serra’s famous works, Snake. While many of Serra’s work led to harsh critiques, critics praised this one as appropriate for the particular setting.


Because this blog post is purely based off of looking at pictures, it is difficult to fully experience the sculpture how Serra intended. All parts of the sculpture are meant to be experienced through movement. Unlike typical art that is meant to be looked at and analyzed, Serra’s work should be felt through motion. He wants the sculpture to change as the viewer walks through the thin steel plates. A viewer should feel differently at the beginning of the viewing process than at the end. The movement between the eight parts develops a feeling of space in motion. The entire room is part of the sculptural field, and the negative space should also be treated as part of the art. Serra does not put a focus on just one aspect of the sculpture, but of all parts of the room that work together to create the experience. All of the pieces are deliberately placed to move the viewer throughout. They are supposed to see the evolution of the forms, moving from a simple double ellipse to a complex spiral. Serra’s sculpture creates a fascinating and changing experience from beginning to end, making it one of Serra’s most well-known works.

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