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Biography of Richard Serra

See works in the collection

b. 1938, San Francisco

1938
Born on November 2.
1957
Studies English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1961. Works in steel mills to earn a living.
1961
Begins studying fine arts at Yale University, graduating in 1964. Meets Philip Guston, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella during these years.
1963
Works with Josef Albers on the book The Interaction of Color.
1964–66
Travels to Europe for two years. Spends the first year in Paris on a Yale traveling fellowship. Discovers the work of Brancusi. Almost every day for a month, Serra draws Brancusi's works at the artist's studio. Will later state, "That's how I made the shift to sculpture." Spends the second year in Florence on a Fulbright grant. Has his first solo show, at Galleria La Salita in Rome. Begins working with materials rarely used in sculpture, such as rubber and fiberglass. Returns to the United States, settling in New York, where he associates with artists such as Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson, Robert Morris, and Bruce Nauman.
1968
Begins the Splash series. Makes the 16-mm film Hand Catching Lead.
1969
Makes One-Ton Prop (House of Cards) , which consists of four upright lead sheets leaning against one another. Begins to work in steel. Through the Art and Technology Program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, makes the Skullcracker series on the grounds of Kaiser Steel Corporation in Fontana, California. Starts a series of large, interior steel installations and begins working with structural engineers. Exhibits for the first time in the United States, at the Leo Castelli Warehouse in New York.
1970
Visits Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt during construction of Spiral Jetty at the Great Salt Lake in Utah and helps with its layout. Travels to Japan with Joan Jonas; participates in the Tokyo Biennial and discovers the Zen gardens of Kyoto. Has a solo exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum in Pasadena, California. Creates his first site-specific work and the first of his large outdoor sculptures with Pulitzer Piece: Stepped Elevation near Saint Louis, Missouri. Receives a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
1971
Makes his first black canvas drawings. Presents Semi-Circular Elevational Steps, an outdoor sculpture in which he uses steel curves for the first time, at the exhibition Art and Technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
1972
Participates in Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany, and the XXXVI Biennale di Venezia.
1975
Receives the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Exhibits at the Portland Center for the Visual Arts in Portland, Oregon.
1977
An exhibition of the artist's drawings is presented at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Participates in Documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany.
1978
The Kunsthalle Tübingen organizes a retrospective of Serra's work. The show later travels to the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. Participates in the XXXVIII Biennale di Venezia.
1980
Exhibits at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. Takes part in the XXXIX Biennale di Venezia.
1981
Tilted Arc is installed at Federal Plaza in New York. Receives the Kaiserring prize from the city of Goslar, Germany, and subsequently exhibits at the Mönchehaus Museum für Moderne Kunst in Goslar.
1982
Visits Spain to study Mozarab architecture. The Saint Louis Art Museum holds an exhibition of Serra's drawings that later travels to the Carol Taylor Art Museum in Dallas. Participates in Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany.
1983
Exhibits at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. To complement the exhibition, the sculpture Clara-Clara is installed in the Jardin des Tuileries.
1985
Exhibits sculptures and drawings at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany.
1986
The Museum of Modern Art in New York presents an exhibition of Serra's sculptures, and the Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst in Humlebaek, Denmark, exhibits his drawings and presents Porten i Slugten , a permanent outdoor installation. Exhibits Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.
1987
The Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte in Münster, Germany, presents an exhibition of Serra's drawings. Participates in Documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany.
1988
The Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin presents a retrospective of Serra's graphic work. The exhibition later travels to the Wilhelm-Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, Germany; Ulmer Museum in Ulm, Germany; and Graphische Sammlung der ETH in Zurich. Ten sculptures by Serra are shown at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
1989
Tilted Arc is dismantled and removed from its site on March 15.
1990
The Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, the Netherlands, holds a retrospective of Serra's drawings. Exhibitions of Serra's work are also held at CAPC, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux and the Kunsthaus Zürich.
1991
The Afangar Icelandic Series is exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Malmö Konsthall in Malmö, Sweden, presents an exhibition of Serra's work. Receives the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Award from the city of Duisburg, Germany. Named Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
1992
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid presents a retrospective of Serra's work. The Tate Gallery in London organizes the exhibition Weight and Measure. Exhibitions of Serra's work are also presented at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf; the Musée d'Art Moderne in Céret, France; and the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken, Germany.
1993
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York presents an exhibition of Serra's work. The exhibition Wall to Wall is held at the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan. Named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Participates in the XLV Biennale di Venezia.
1994
Richard Serra: Weight and Measure Drawings opens at the Drawing Center in New York. The exhibition later travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum; Baltimore Museum of Art; and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon. The National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan, presents an exhibition of his work. Receives the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture, awarded by the Japan Art Association. Awarded an honorary doctorate in fine arts by the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California.
1996
The Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art in Luxembourg presents an exhibition of the artist's drawings.
1997
Exhibits his Torqued Ellipses at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York. Serra's Snake, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, is shown as part of the museum's inaugural exhibition, The Guggenheim Museums and the Art of This Century.
1998
Exhibits at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
1999
The Museum Kurhaus Kleve in Kleve, Germany, presents a retrospective of Serra's graphic work. The exhibition later travels to several museums in Germany, Austria, and Belgium. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Richard Serra, an exhibition of his Torqued Ellipses.
2001
Exhibits a series of spirals at the XLIX Biennale di Venezia, where he is awarded the Leone d'Oro for lifetime achievement. Receives the Gold Medal for sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
2002
Named a member of the Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste by the German government.
2003
Receives a commission from the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to create a series of sculptures to be permanently installed in the museum's ArcelorMittal Gallery (Gallery 104)
2004
Exhibits at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in Naples.
2005
Receives the Premio Internacional de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Gabarrón. The Matter of Time , an eight-piece sculptural installation by Serra, is installed in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao's ArcelorMittal Gallery (Gallery 104). Serra's Five Plates Counter-Clockwise Pentagon is installed in the lobby of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao, alongside Eduardo Chillida's Lugar de encuentros IV.
2006
Exhibits at Gagosian Gallery in New York. Galerie Lelong in Paris presents an exhibition of Serra's graphic work. Takes part in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and Homage to Chillida at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
2007
The Museum of Modern Art in New York presents the retrospective exhibition Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years. Participates in Television Delivers People at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
2008
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao exhibits Serra's Plow (1992), on long-term loan from a private collection. Promenade, a large-scale sculpture created for Monumenta, is installed in the Grand Palais in Paris. Has a solo exhibition at Kunst-Werke Berlin. Named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. Awarded La Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España by the Spanish government, which he will receive in 2009.
2009
Serra's work is included in the group exhibitions Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour 1950 to Today at Tate Liverpool, La escultura en la colección del IVAM at the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern in Valencia, Spain, Dans l'oeil du critique: Bernard Lamarche-Vadel et les artistas at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and Waiting for Video: Works from the 1960s to Today at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. The Universidad Pública de Navarra awards Serra an honorary doctorate.
2010
Bestowed the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia, León, presents the exhibition Peso y Materia: Richard Serra obra gráfica. His work is shown at Carreras Múgica, Bilbao. His are shown at the Gagosian Gallery, Rome, in an exhibition called Richard Serra, Greenpoint Rounds , and his Paintstik Silkscreens are shown at the Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston. His work is presented, together with other artists', at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gives conference The Skin of Spaces at Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, Spain.
2011
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, organizes the first retrospective exhibition of Serra's drawings. The exhibition will then travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, and The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel presents the exhibition Constantin Brancusi & Richard Serra, which will then travel to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The artist's most recent drawings (2007–2010) are shown at the Gagosian Gallery, New York. The academic institution Cátedra Jorge Oteiza of the Public University of Navarra publishes the book Richard Serra. Escritos y entrevistas 1972–2008, an anthology of interviews with the sculptor and writings selected by Serra himself, most of which are translated into Spanish for the first time.
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