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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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  • leaf grey style avatar for user Michœl
    This seems like it would be very dangerous if one piece fell over! Any structural engineers out there who can comment on the stability of this piece??
    (10 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user HAKthis
      Not an engineer, but I believe these pieces are more stable than they look due to two factors. The first of these factors is the curved shape of each piece. This moves the center of mass to a point inside the curve, as opposed to directly underneath the piece. The best visual example I can come up with is a fermata (http://rogerbourland.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/fermata.jpg), where the dot is near the center of gravity. The second factor, taking into acount the first, is the immense weight of these pieces. @ the narrator states these pieces are each approximately 30 tons, or 60,000 pounds. The amount of force needed to move these pieces, let alone destabilize them, would be quite extraordinary.
      (8 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user weber
    Are the components of this piece entirely self-supporting? I saw them being lifted into place by a crane in another video and there didn't appear to be any foundation or structure besides the parts themselves.
    (5 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    Is the condition of the plate part of the "piece"? Were any treatments put on it to protect it?
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops tree style avatar for user itsleeford
      Yes. The work was designed to be weathered. Anything that happens to the piece is part of the piece.

      His piece "Tilted Arc" was erected in a public space, and was unliked by the occupants of the space. The piece was ultimately taken down after some controversy. Serra was asked if he wanted to put it up somewhere else, and he essentially said that if it ends up in the dump, that would be part of the piece. It ended up in the dump.
      (3 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Dayvyd
    Does the order in which you walk through this really matter? Seems rather arbitrary to me.
    (1 vote)
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    • sneak peak green style avatar for user Ryan Nee
      I think they only walked through them in that order because they used the MoMA audio guide as the audio track for this video, and that was the sequence that happened to be used in the audio guide. You can walk through them in whatever order you want.
      (3 votes)
  • female robot grace style avatar for user Anna
    How does he know that it will oxidize for 8 years before it becomes a big mound of iron oxide powder(since iron oxide is porous)? What will happen to us when iron oxide gets blown into our atmosphere? Will we all get severe asthma or even die from breathing in these tiny metal particles at a relatively high concentration?
    (2 votes)
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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.