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In Action at Gemini: Making Rounds

Serra during his proofing session, July and August 1998. Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen

“When I work on a series, though I do have an idea of what I want to achieve, I usually don’t know which [works] have fulfilled my intention until I’ve made several. The more you do, the more the particularities of the proposition present themselves . . . [and the works] become critical of each other.” –Serra, 2010


Richard Serra, Out of Round X, 1999, paintstick, Museum of Modern Art, Gift of the Artist. © 2015 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Serra’s imposing works on paper and the monumental steel sculptures for which he is best known emphasize materiality and process. Over the decades, his oeuvre has developed as interrelated, unfolding projects. “Work comes out of work, onionskin by onionskin,” he explains. The Rounds prints extend various series of drawings, including Rounds (1996) and Out of Rounds (1999). For the Rounds prints, Serra worked with black, oil-based paintstick and waxy lithographic crayon, using a cardboard template to form large, roughly circular shapes on copper printing plates. Serra built up thick layers of the black materials, forcing the substance through mesh window screens, with his feet and hands. He also melted paintstick and poured, flung, and splattered it across the plates. The completed forms were photographed in raking light to best accentuate and capture their detailed topography. The ink and paintstick were then cleaned off the plates, and the photographs were transferred to the plates, which were etched deeply, inked very heavily, and printed.

View the slideshow below for images of Serra producing his Rounds at Gemini.