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Richard Serra, "Band," 2006

Richard Serra on his sculpture, Band: "you can walk inside and outside continuously and never stop” for more than 70 feet. Learn more about what artists have to say in our online course, Modern and Contemporary Art, 1945-1989. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user C4PT4INF4LC0N
    Artistic living spaces in architecture are becoming more widely used. Is it possible that houses in the future will be fluid and waved? In my personal opinion, it would be an amazing experience to live in a work of art such as "Band" or "Torqued Ellipse IV". Would these hypothetical buildings be structurally possible?
    (4 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Inger Hohler
      Curved houses don't work well with bookshelves nor other against-the wall furniture, so it's not everybody's cup of tea. But they do exist, and there are houses where a part of the building is curved. I've seen a few lovely curved sitting rooms where the furniture may be single chairs or curved sofas facing inwards, but this is "bespoke tailoring". I don't see curved houses becoming a standard because for most surfaces it would be expensive. While you could have a "pour floor" surface and not pay extra, laying tiles or carpets in a curved room would be much more work (and you'd have to pay for lots of extra carpet) than in a square or rectangular one. A round dome can be a very stable structure, and a concrete band for outer walls is not a problem in itself, but it's so much easier and cheaper creating the supports for flat walls. Curved windows are non-standard too. An octagonal building would be cheaper but not so smooth on the eye. Waved houses would not be good for energy efficiency. There would be too much surface area. Then there is the problem of how to divide the space. You loose the feeling of smoothness if you divide the curved space in sections, and while many people now have kitchen and sitting room in one, and may sleep in the sitting room - you'd still want your bathroom to be sectioned off. That's just if you are living alone, or with a spouse. Bringing in children or friends for sleeping over might quickly cause you to wish for a spare room. Low room dividers don't do much against sound transmission. I'm sure a number of architects would love to create more curved living spaces, so if you get rich you could probably live in your dream house one day :-)
      (1 vote)
  • primosaur sapling style avatar for user David Mayrose
    What did it cost to make this piece of art?
    (1 vote)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    ~ - "the entire sheet of steel" - is this all one piece of metal? Seems too incredible to be.
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user weber
      I'm seeing at least one seam. I'm guessing there are as many sections as on the lead model. Shaping and placing them for such a nearly seamless fit is in itself impressive. I would really like to see a video on the construction technique for these pieces.
      (4 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    Would adding mirrors to the wall enhance the experience this is supposed to induce?
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Soraia L. Motta
      Serra's work is about perceiving your body with the space sensations that the work brings like a scenery or landscape. The space that mirror gives is virtual unable to pass trough is the opposite of the quality of Serra's work, is an "illusion", and also the mirrors could bring the idea of carnival fair's mirror house.
      (2 votes)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user Kimberly Hemphill
    Where was the steel mill located that forged this metal? I'm wondering how far this piece/these pieces had to travel (and by what mode of transport) before they came in through the big door next to the empty lot. ?
    (1 vote)
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    • leafers tree style avatar for user Daryl Fell
      I find it interesting that so many comments on Serra's band are about the practicalities of its construction, cost, movement etc. Given the nature of the piece I wonder if this is a consideration of the artist's technique. With the theme of this art movement to be more inclusive of viewer participation and environment, perhaps there is also the consideration of a seamless movement between the piece's practicality and its artistic merit. Where does one end and the other begin. Is it as seamless and continuous as "Band" itself?
      (1 vote)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user Z. A. de Bruyn
    I would like to climb structures like this. Or attempt to. I suppose that would be frowned on, though. XD
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] The three Serra sculptures in this gallery were conceived and built for this room. They were brought in through a 40 foot door that open onto the empty lot next to the museum. Each weights between 100 and 200 tons. This one called "Band" snakes horizontally for more than 70 feet. - [Voiceover] This piece unfolds its curvature in a new template. It has nothing to do with any of the pieces that have come before. It's totally different vocabulary. What I'd like you to do is walk the entire piece. You can walk inside and outside continuously if you'd like and never stop. - [Voiceover] There are four volumes. They move in and out, and the piece moves in and out. There's a shift between inside and outside that seems continuous. There are some spaces when you go into, you think you've been in before, but you realize you haven't. You sense that they're similar, but they're all dissimilar. It's difficult to one space from the other. The entire sheet of steel, as it ungulates though the space changes continuously, and its interior exterior is continually exchanging. - [Voiceover] Serra says that the sculpture creates new spaces within the architecture of the room. - [Voiceover] Look, if this room were empty it's like a field of space bounded by these walls. Then, when you walk into a piece like this, you're just dealing with the sculpture volume, not the volume of the architecture of this room. - [Voiceover] Serra worked out "Band" in a series of inch to a foot scale lead models. - [Voiceover] I built "Band" in models for about three years, and then I built it in steel mill, and then I went to look at it. It was definitely a new experience, and I didn't know what to make of it for a couple of days. It wasn't a questions of quality. I didn't understand the space of it. That surprised me. - [Voiceover] Finally, Serra felt that he had a grasp of this sculpture, and it's newly created form. - [Voiceover] Thought it was better than I thought it was. I've been looking at 40 years of work. You make distentions, and I think this is as interesting as anything else in the show. - [Voiceover] Serra was asked if "Band" would lead him in new directions. - [Voiceover] I think it all ready has, you know.