Richard Serra: Drawings for The Courtauld
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Can a small, delicate canvas have the same impact as a monolithic sculpture? It’s a question you’d imagine Richard Serra has wrestled with. The massively influential American minimalist slammed into the public eye with his imposingly huge slabs of rusting steel (see his ‘Fulcrum’ sculpture outside Liverpool Street Station), creating some of the most iconic works of post-war American art in the process.
The 12 works on clear plastic sheets in this show lack the heft of his iconic sculptures, but somehow they still manage to maintain a sense of overbearing power and emotion. There’s a suffocating lack of colour here. Black swirls and dark creeping shapes consume areas of light. Sculptural, textured blobs and lumps of black material threaten to peel off and coat the gallery. The works manage to feel at once fragile and threatening, alive and yet frozen in time. Serra’s drawings may not inspire the same sense of awe as his sculpture, but they draw you in quietly with a dark, threatening menace that’s almost overwhelming.