Fabricated 1975–76 (original lead version 1969)
Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein; S.975.97
The minimalist sculptor Richard Serra is best known for his large-scale structures of manipulated sheet metal. His work focuses on the inherent nature of his constructive process, as well as the innate physical qualities of the materials he uses, such as steel and lead. Describing his working method, the artist stated: "For me, process has always taken precedence over results, if only because without the how there is no what." Early in his career, Serra went so far as to create a lengthy list of active verbs he wished to implement in his daily labors, eventually trying them all in the studio.
Two-Plate Prop, like many of his mature works, is self-supporting, emphasizing the extreme weight and solidity of the steel as well as the force of gravity. An early example of Serra's distinctive abstract style, it explores the basic vocabulary of sculpture: geometric forms that emphasize spatial relationships to the exclusion of all else. It is composed of two pieces of Cor-Ten steel with a combined weight of 2,600 pounds. Set perpendicular to one another, each plate acts as the other's support, allowing the force of gravity to transfer down through the steel and spread evenly onto the ground.
For Serra, unsurprisingly, it was always "important that whatever was finally made reveal its making." In this work, the weight and compression of the steel is expressed through the seemingly precarious, yet actually stable, balance of the two parts. Like the Earth's tectonic plates, Serra's Two-Plate Prop stands in equilibrium yet suggests the potential for great power and destruction through its sheer weight and mass.
Last Updated: 10/5/12