Richard Serra (b. 1939)
Weitmar III
oilstick on paper
37 x 61 in. (94 x 154.9 cm.)
Executed in 1983.
Galerie m Bochum, Bochum
Hoffmann collection, Cologne
Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf
Stöcker collection, Munich
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Private collection, Los Angeles
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 11 November 2010, lot 362
CarrerasMugica, Bilbao
Acquired from the above by the present owner
H. Janssen, ed., Richard Serra: Drawings 1969-1990: Catalogue Raisonné, Bern, 1990, p. 241, no. 254 (illustrated).
Bochum, Galerie m Bochum, Richard Serra, November-March 1984.
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Drawings, 1986.
Bilbao, CarrerasMugica, Richard Serra Echoic Drawings, February-March 2012.
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Lot Essay

Rather than approach drawing as preliminary studies for larger, completed works, artist Richard Serra grants the act of drawing as an sovereign pursuit. In Weitmar III, the artist’s technique pushes the medium beyond its known limits. Black oilstick has been impressed and embedded layer upon layer into the fibers of the paper surface. The dense coating of thick black material results in an enticing surface texture that resembles that of charcoal or charred firewood.

Texture is not the only component of the drawing that is explored. The artist’s unwavering loyalty to the color black and the simplest of visual forms have resulted in a spectacular oeuvre that immerses the viewer in its expanse, evoking the surface of some distant planet or impenetrable black hole. In a review of the artist’s drawing retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011, New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl writes, “The light-killing blackness makes for delicate balances…of infinite depth. You don’t look at this art. You give yourself over to it. The payoff…is a sense of being brought fully, tinglingly alive” (P. Schjeldahl, “Drawing Room,” The New Yorker, May 16, 2011).

The principles of Minimalism utilized in the artist’s early works have continued to provide the formal framework for his artistic practice across all mediums. Serra intentionally restricts himself within a prescribed format; he experiments with a single material, such as steel seen in his sculptures, oilstick in the present lot, and solitary color, such as black, which he explores over several decades. Weitmar III continues Serra’s dialogue with the modernist rhetoric of simple geometric forms. For the artist, black– which may be considered as the negation of color itself – manifests many of the same attributes as corten steel, Serra’s preferred material of choice for his notorious, larger-than-life sculptures. “Black is a property, not a quality,” Serra has asserted. “In terms of weight, black is heavier, creates a denser volume, holds itself in a more compressed field. It is comparable to forging. Since black is the densest color material, it absorbs and dissipates light to a maximum…to use black is the clearest way of marking against a white field” (R. Serra, quoted in L. Cooke and M. Francis, Carnegie International 1991, New York, 1992, p. 124).

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