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).
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.
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.