Artsmart Roundtable: Richard Serra's Band Sculpture

Richard Serra lacma

Nothing beats being in front of a work of art. Sometimes these works travel to you, in exhibits and to museums nearby. Other times, you've got to travel to the work itself, which is definitely the case when it comes to the work of Richard Serra. His over-sized works made of steel are often site-specific and their installation alone is labor intensive. These aren't works that travel and that's ok. Because, after all, it's a good excuse to get out there in the world and see it for yourself. Serra can give you an excuse to travel to Spain, the Hudson River Valley, Qatar, or, in this case, my latest Serra sighting was in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when I came face-to-face with Band (2006).

richard serra lacma

Many of Serra's works only make sense in-context. Less so in the LACMA's case, where his sculpture Band sits in an oversized white gallery. However, its installation, in tandem with the building's construction itself may very well have been a part of the building's design. You'd have to make sure you had a room large enough to house it, after all.
The size alone of one of Serra's works is a reason to travel. You simple cannot get a sense of it from a photo. It's towering and the presence of its hefty weight is ominous. Offset only by the undulating forms that for a moment, make you forget that you're standing next to or slightly underneath a slab of steel that could crush you alive.

richard serra lacma

Another aspect of Serra's work that can only be perceived in person is its texture. The smooth edges contrast with the rough, porous surfaces. The marks made from the oil of wandering hands who can't help but touch. These are all qualities that you can't appreciate from afar, because you can't see them.

Band at LACMA may be an obvious example of art that must be experienced in person. But really, any art should be an excuse alone to travel. Get out there, stand in front of it, and gain a new perspective.

Art Smart
Art Smart is a virtual roundtable discussion with other bloggers who love exactly what I do, art and travel. This month's topic is art worth travelling for. To find some more sources of inspiration, check out these posts:
Christine of Daydream Tourist: A Day in Medieval Europe at the Cloisters
Murissa at The Wanderfull Traveler Art Worth Traveling For in Rural Italy
Erin of A Sense of Place: Wait, You Want Me to Go to Liverpool to See Art?
Lesley at Culture Tripper: The power and the glory of San Vitale, Ravenna
Jenna of This is My Happiness: Art Exhibitions in 2013: Art Worth Traveling For
Jeff of EuroTravelogue: Traveling for the Love of Art


Very cool. I think I had a brief lecture regarding this work or something similar where the viewer had to walk around its perimeter to gain a greater sense of its size and appreciate the shape and texture.
But I agree, nothing beats seeing the art in person.


I can only imagine the process and labor that goes into making and installing a piece like this, Kelly. It's so true that photos can only transmit a small bit of information about a work of art. We've got to get out there and experience it.

The more I read these artsmart roundtable posts, the more I like them!

Great choice! After doing outdoor sculpture maintenance as a volunteer, I really get how much of a large sculpture gets lost in a photo. I really want to see his Snake piece after seeing a documentary going into the logistics of ensuring the room gave it enough space to breathe.

Thanks for the tip, I didn't know Richard Serra's work. Interesting that the installations all seem to be indoors. I guess the defined (or confined?) space is needed to appreciate the piece. I'll be on the look out for his work now!

I love Richard Serra's work. His instillation at the Guggenheim in Bilbao is definitely worth traveling for. Being able to see it from above as well as wandering through and around created another experience. It's great to learn of this one in LA.