Sculpture Journal

Material and expression – reflections on sculptures by Richard Serra and Eduardo Chillida

Sculpture Journal (2018), 27, (3), 321–331.

Abstract

When considering artists from the second half of the twentieth century who used steel as material for their sculptures, Eduardo Chillida and Richard Serra are among the first to come to mind. Both artists are prominent in public spaces and both present large-size sculptures which challenge viewers. Both use clear geometrical patterns, and both develop their oeuvre from an intense involvement with the properties and possibilities of the material. However, their sculptures show fundamentally diverging conceptions not only in the manner of their creation, but also in their reception. Chillida and Serra have almost nothing in common; they never made reference to each other, although their sculptures often stand in neighbourly proximity. Nevertheless a comparison or more precisely a synopsis can illustrate a number of problems that rise in dealing with sculpture today. Serra’s works convince mostly when they concentrate on complex formal qualities resulting from constellations of geometrical forms and given spaces. However, sculptures in public space consistently have the difficult task of creating memorial places which ideally speak for themselves. Chillida’s sculptures fulfil this purpose because of their expressive pictorial potential. The material COR-TEN steel provides them with power and emphasis.

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Author details

Hänsel, Sylvaine