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Richard Serra, "Intersection II"

Richard Serra talks about how this sculpture made of 4 identical plates, allows us to explore 3 very different spaces. To learn more about what artists have to say, take our online course, Modern and Contemporary Art, 1945-1989. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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Video transcript

- [voiceover] Richard Serra, standing at the foot of the steps, looking into his sculpture. - This is a piece called "Intersection II". It was built in 1992, 1993. It consists of four identical plates, even though you might think that each plate is different. Each plate is a single piece of steel about 13 feet high, and they're about 50 feet long, probably upward of 30 tons. They're made of conical shapes. When you think of a cone, you either think of a flower pot or a lamp shade. If you think of a section of each of those being turned upside down, that is how this piece is formed. What that does is make three different juxtaposed spaces, a contained elliptical space in the center, and two flanking passages. I think the best thing for us to do now is walk into the central space so we can see how this accounts for a psychological feeling of different spaces. When you walk into this space, immediately the sound is limited. You're in a very, very contained space. One large form is leaning toward you, and the other leaning away from you, which may make you think that you have to adjust your balance. Depending on your own experience, there are references that might come to mind, nautical, cavern, enclosure, or whatever. You feel that you're in a weighted space, almost like the ballast in the bottom of a ship. - [voiceover] As you walk out the far end of this central space, turn to your left and step into the narrow flanking space leading back towards where you started. - We're going to walk in between two plates leaning away from you, and what this does is it opens itself outward toward the sky. This space seems much more relaxing, easier to traverse. The fact that you can see through to the open end before you arrive at it, allows you to walk freely through it. - [voiceover] When you emerge from this space, please turn to your left and walk over to the passage on the far side. - The interior plate is now leaning toward you. The exterior plate is also leaning toward you, and as the piece rises, the space becomes more and more compressed. This space has much more of a vertical lift to it. I decided the height in relation to my body movement. At a certain point, if work becomes too high, you look up and the physical space won't be registered with your body. It just becomes like a building. These pieces still have their mill scale on them. The grey aspect, which is still kind of deteriorating, eventually will crack and fade and fall off completely, and then you'll have the dark rusted patina. That patina will continue to oxidize over eight years. The reason this piece still has its mill scale on it is that it's been stored inside.