Where to Hike Through Million Dollar Art
What’s That? | Monumental Sculptures
We created a new series called What’s That? to celebrate experiencing the different and familiar, whether it is an object, food, custom, artistic style or type of architecture. In each edition, we introduce an item and explain how to appreciate it and why it’s important. Ideas or requests? Let us know on our Facebook Page or in the comments section below.
There is large-scale art and then there is monumental. These are the type of works that are so gargantuan that they cannot just be inserted into a room - instead they require places specifically engineered to house them.
Monumental art does not wait around hoping for someone to approach it for a polite glance. It demands to be noticed. Monumental art should be appreciated not just for its appearance from various distances and angles, but also for how it interacts with the surroundings and traffic around it. Do people sidestep it or go through it? Look up at it or change their pace while approaching it? In many regards, the viewer becomes part of the art.
Just for the record, there isn’t a strict definition for “monumental sculpture.” The rule of thumb I’ve been told: if it is larger than a person and can’t be moved by a someone of average strength, it’s monumental.
Richard Serra is one of my favorite contemporary artists of monumental art. His sculptures tend to have a common thread: towers of burnt steel plates curved in organic dimensions that invite visitors to venture between them as if they were hiking along the valley floor of a canyon. Between time spent at his father’s shipyard in San Francisco, and his days working at a steel mill, Serra had all the inspiration and knowledge needed for colossal works.
There is no special expertise or art history background required to enjoy Serra’s sculptures - just permission to be awed. The artist himself admits this about his work: “This isn’t here to teach you anything… It’s your experience and the private thoughts it engenders that are your private participation with this work.”
Go see how you engage with the gullies and gorges of Serra’s sculptures. Currently, there are two Sidewalks that walk you through Serra’s works, both are free of charge: