Brashly, Deftly Masculine

BY FRANK HOLLIDAY | Torqued Richard Serra’s weatherproof steel “Blind Spot.”

Upon entering the Richard Serra show at the Gagosian Gallery, one is awestruck with a sense of majestic presence like when standing before the hull of an aircraft carrier.

Four iron-colored sculptures fill and transform the space into a maze of swelling lines and endless forms rising from the gallery floor. In “Wake,” “Blindspot,” and “Vice Versa” he expands on his use of torques and spheroid sections of C metal plates. These massive works amaze like Giaometti sculptures, offering suprises with each step around their bases. The patina is an iron red; the metal is so intrinsically respected, it is rendered as sensitive and seductive as a well-wrought painting. Serra’s freedom from the ironic stance that has strangled art of late is as refreshing as a cool drink of water in the noon desert.

Richard Serra’s gargantuan hulks gracefully woo the senses

Even though surrounded by tons of metal which seem precarious, like a house of cards ready to crush us with one wrong move, Serra’s work feels warm and womb-like. It presses us to continue a deeper journey to see what lies ahead. Serra seems to hit on all of the notes of greatness—embracing the nature of Smithson’s 70s “earth works;” the swift gestures of Clifford Still’s abstract expressionism; the theatricality of Wagnerian opera; the monumentality of Mies van der Rohe’s architecture; the linear complexity of a Balanchine choreography—all with the simplicity and serenity of a Zen rock garden.

This is an expansion of the Serra vocabulary last introduced in his Gagosian exhibition in October 2001. This work is male at its highest form. The New Male, strong but sensitive, is forged, yet drawn—unapologetically masculine while encompassing the feminine. It is not to be missed.

Richard Serra: “Wake,” “Blindspot,”

“Catwalk,” “Vice-versa”

Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th St.,

Through Oct. 25; Tue.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

212 741 1111,