All Photo Credit In This Article: Andrey Fyodorovykh
JULY.23.2015 | ANDREY FYODOROVYKH
Can something minimalistic be expressive at the same time, regardless of size and medium? With this question in mind, I took a trip to the David Zwirner Gallery at Chelsea in New York City, with works from minimalist sculptor artists Richard Serra and De Wain Valentine that equally bring awe and perplexity to the masses.
Richard Serra has become most famous in the art scene due to him holding exhibits using massive chunks of raw metal in very minimalistic compositions. He had become well known for his craft that TimeOut.com called him as, “the art world’s god of heavy metal”. Walk right into the David Zwirner Gallery at West 20th Street in New York City and quite literally the first thing you will see is Richard Serra’s new piece: Equal.
Richard Serra, Equal, 2015
Needless to say, it is an absolute behemoth of an art piece. To create the piece, Serra had these 40-ton blocks made out of weatherproofed steel and later placed on top of one of another to bring out the difference in their shapes. Throughout my trip to the David Zwirner Gallery, it was the only piece I saw that people were allowed to touch. Why Equal is so striking is simply in its composition; the way the blocks sit away from each other in cold unison and almost dead silence in an intentionally dimly lit room. It almost brings to mind over how the piece brings out the rawness of the material that was used to make these blocks. The finesse seen here comes to show as to why Richard Serra is known as “the god of heavy metal” in the art world to begin with.
Moving on down to West 19th Street, another section of the David Zwirner Gallery houses the works of another sculptor artist, De Wain Valentine, who specializes in a similar direction as Richard Serra but in different means of execution. Instead of using raw metals to express his artistic vision, he used a more fragile yet equally beautiful medium: polyester resin. (In layman’s terms, it’s plastic) Valentine had to strategize when creating his pieces because he knew that average blocks of polyester resin were prone to cracking, so he hired the help of a scientist to create a more durable version called Valentine McKast Resin. It is through this type of resin that Valentine was able to create the centerpiece of his exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery: the Two Gray Columns.
De Wain Valentine, Two Gray Columns, 1974-75
At nearly 12 feet high, the Two Gray Columns start at 10 inches thick at the bottom and begin to taper off and narrow as they begin to rise to the top. It is imperative to say that the above photo can lie to some and make them think that it’s not that tall; but it absolutely is. One can easily say that this piece’s incredibly smooth and perfect edges, surface and curves are proof that Valentine knows what he is doing. This is shown further through the fact that Valentine was once told that, “Galleries will never show art made of plastic”, when he was beginning to emerge into the art scene in the 1960s. It was such a powerful and moving piece to witness that the docents at the gallery kept telling visitors (including me) to prevent coming within a foot and a half of this sculpture.
If this isn’t a compliment, then what is?
For available Richard Serra posters, please click here.
Gallery information is found below.
David Zwirner Gallery
Richard Serra, Equal
Open until July 24, 2015
535 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011
De Wain Valentine, Works from the 1960s and 1970s
Open Until August 7, 2015
519 & 533 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011