Leo, 1998; Etching on Somerset Textured paper; Numbered LXI/XC, signed Richard Serra, and dated '98 lower right; Published by Noblet Serigraphie, Inc., New York; Size - Sheet 27 x 37"; Unframed.
"Black is a property, not a quality... In terms of weight, black is heavier, creates a larger volume, holds itself in a more compressed field." - Richard Serra
Richard Serra (b. 1938) is an American minimalist who was also involved in the Process Art Movement. He is also a video artist but is most known for his large scale sculpture assemblies of sheet metal and his paintings, prints, and drawings that are composed of large black shapes. The choice to work in black, which Serra considers to be a non-color, allows for the absorptive darkness to force the space around the black forms to expand or contract. For Serra, black actually conveys the properties of weight and mass. Serra has stated, "Since black is the densest color material, it absorbs and dissipates light to a maximum and thereby changes the artificial as well as the natural light in a given room. A black shape can hold its space and place in relation to a larger volume and alter the mass of that volume readily." He often employees the use of texture to his works, which emulates the rough tactility akin to that of tree bark. The rich dense blacks also convey a sense of gravity, allowing the viewer to get lost deep within the forms.
Leo Castelli (1907-1999) was an Italian-American art dealer whose New York Gallery showcased contemporary art for five decades. Among the art movements showed were Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color Field, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art , Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism. He gave Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella their first one man shows. Castelli had in his stable the following historically significant artists: Larry Poons, Lee Bontecou, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Cy Twombly, Ronald Davis, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, and Joseph Kosuth.
"Leo," 1998 was one of nine prints that were commissioned by Leo Castelli's son Jean-Christophe to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leo Castelli Gallery and as a ninetieth birthday present for his father. The artists chosen to participate all were strongly associated with the Castelli Gallery at some point in their career and included: Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Kosuth, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Edward Ruscha, and Bruce Nauman. The edition size of the resulting portfolio of nine prints corresponded to Leo Castelli's birthday in 1997 when he turned 90 years old. The first two portfolios were presented to Leo Castelli, with the first being a birthday gift and the second being displayed in the Castelli Gallery. The vast majority of the other 88 sets were given by Jean-Christophe to major museums and institutions around the world; making individual prints from the portfolios extremely rare.
"Leo," is a large and extremely well executed work of art. It has as it's central focus a large textured black form that has almost engulfed what is left of the small amount of white ground above and to the right. A rare and exceptionally well composed work by Richard Serra, and a great addition to any art collection.
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