RIP to the Real Man of Steel, Richard Serra

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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photograph: Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty ImagesGuggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photograph: Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

“Junction” at the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 2011 //  Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times“Junction” at the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 2011 // Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times

A Serra work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2016.Credit...Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Jason Henry for The New York TimesA Serra work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2016.Credit…Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Jason Henry for The New York Times

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Richard Serra made steel move and bend. He made rooms and museum halls, which seem almost like insurmountable obstacles for transformation, into reconsidered, powerful, sculptural spaces. We know steel to create massive buildings, bridges and spaces we live, work and commute upon, but Serra made steel expand our idea of structure and form, of time and place. His drawings, too, perhaps some of my favorite works of his, and for which I met the man at a retrospective of his drawings at SFMOMA in 2011, were also explorations of how to occupy, free and understand space and limitations. 

The San Francisco-born artist died on Tuesday at the age of 85 at his home in Orient, New York on the North Fork of Long Island. For man who set out to be a painter and became perhaps the greatest sculpture artist of his time, the art world has lost a giant. A man of steel. “I’m interested in creating an experience for the viewer, not just an object,” Serra once said, and those works and those emotions will live on. —Evan Pricco

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