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Gemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–2005
Richard Serra

Richard Serra has been working at Gemini since 1972. His first works at the shop were lithographs exploring dramatic black shapes such as 183rd & Webster Avenue (47.2). By the early 1980s, he had begun to investigate a screenprint process that employed Paintstik, a dense oil-based medium that added greater weight and surface texture to the prints. In works such as Reykjavik (47.82), the artist began by screenprinting a single layer of flat black ink onto a specially treated paper in the areas to be coated with the substance. A synthetic fabric screen stenciled with the image was laid over the paper and layers of black Paintstik were pushed through by hand. The striations and other rich surface textures seen in these Paintstik works resulted from forcing the viscous material through the screen.

Later in the decade, Serra filled many notebooks with drawings while working on a topological sculpture project on the tiny island of Videy near Reykjavik, Iceland. Gemini accompanied his endeavors by sending small etching plates, transfer paper, and drawing materials to this remote location. After considerable experimentation, a group of four-by-six-inch copperplates developed into the 10 etchings of the Videy Afangar Series (47.50–47.59) whose small size offered some of the intimacy of notebook drawings. This project also prepared Serra to work on a group of larger etchings using intaglio construction, a process that requires a plate be deeply etched in order to create texture. The plates retained far more ink than is normally used for most prints—up to a pound or more was applied to each impression. Further, in order to fulfill the artist's desire to give the prints additional mass and presence, a piece of paper heavier than the support sheet was cut to the shape of the image area and carefully shaved to blend with the image. In a final step, the entire assembly was run through the press and then simultaneously printed and adhered. In more recent work such as Rocker (47.95), Serra has also reinvigorated the traditional etching medium, using deeply bitten plates to create expressive gestural forms. Richard Serra's Gemini work has progressed from relatively planar images in his early expressive lithographs to prints with a deeper and more articulated relief found through explorations in increasingly sophisticated screenprint and intaglio techniques. Serra's journey exemplifies the symbiotic nature of Gemini's sustained collaborations with artists, revealing the workshop's unique capacity to provide problem-solving resources that grow with the artist's expressive needs.

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Art and Technology | The 1960s | The 1970s | Robert Rauschenberg
Ellsworth Kelly | Jasper Johns |David Hockney | Sam Francis | Roy Lichtenstein
The 1980s | Jonathan Borofsky | Richard Serra | The 1990s | Elizabeth Murray
Into the Fourth Decade | Toward the Future


Serra, Videy Afangar #4 (47.53)

Richard Serra at work on his etchings and Paintstik compositions, November 1990

Serra, Rocker (47.95)

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