Richard Serra: Tools & Strategies | Art21 “Extended Play”


When I first started, what was very very important to me Was dealing with the nature of process. So, what I had done was I had written a verb list– To roll, to fold, to cut, To dangle, to twist–or whatever. And I really just worked out pieces in relation to the verb list Physically in a space. Now, what happens when you do that is You don’t become involved with the psychology of what you’re making, Nor do you become involved with the after image of what it’s going to look like. So, basically, it gives you a way of proceeding, With material in relation to body movement, In relation to making, That divorces you from any notion of metaphor, Any notion of easy imagery. I think what artists do is They invent strategies that allow themselves to see In a way that they haven’t seen before To extend their vision. Various artists do it in different ways: Cézanne did it in his way, Obviously, Pollock did it his way By dripping downward in a horizontal plane. But I think what’s interesting about artists is They constantly come up with ways of informing themselves By inventing tools or techniques or processes That allow them to see into a material manifestation In the way that you would not if you dealt with standardized Or academic ways of thinking. These ellipses only came about because We’d invented a wheel to make these things In order for us to understand what we were doing. And albeit it’s a small invention And on another sense, it has never come up In the history of form making before. We’re not drawing the outside of the piece Like a pear or a donut. What we’re doing is trying to figure out What the internal volume will revolve like. We made a wheel to figure that out, And that wheel predicates the outside the skin. So it’s the way of working from the inside, out. I think one constantly tries to invent ways Of seeing into what one’s doing So you don’t get into some lock-step notion Of how to do what you do. I have to kind of invent new strategies In order to not go back to something that’s just a reflex action.

3 thoughts on “Richard Serra: Tools & Strategies | Art21 “Extended Play”

  1. Hi there. We will continue to publish new short episodes here on our YouTube channel at least every other week. New hour-long episodes are tentatively scheduled to return to PBS in 2014.

  2. I used this video and accompanying teacher resources for the first time last year, and it greatly enhanced the students' ideas of process, potential areas of inspiration, and overall ideas of what art can be/mean. Thanks again Art 21! I've been using your site for 10 years, and am so grateful for all the content your team provides!

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