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Richard Serra

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 2010

Richard Serra (San Francisco, United States, 1939 - New York, USA, 26th March 2024), whose father was Spanish, studied at the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with a degree in Science and English Literature in 1961, and later studied Fine Arts at Yale University until 1964. In the mid-sixties, he broadened his training in Paris and Florence. He showed for the first time with “Live Animal Habitat” at the Galeria La Salita in Rome. He began to exhibit his work in 1967 in New York, with gallery owner Leo Castelli. Since then, Serra has displayed his work in the most representative museums in Europe, America and Asia and is present in some of the most important public and private collections worldwide.

Serra’s minimalist pieces and large-scale site-specific sculptures use industrial materials such as lead, steel and concrete. His earliest work, such as the piece “Belts”, on display at the Guggenheim in New York, consist of assemblies of neon and rubber. Between 1968 and 1969 he created almost a hundred pieces made from lead, such as “Splashing”, made from molten lead hurled in large splashes against the wall and floor before solidifying. In 1981, he created one of his most spectacular sculptures, “Tilted Arc”, for the Federal Plaza in New York City, and in 1990, installed “Afangar” in Iceland.

In Spain, his work is on display at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. The Guggenheim Bilbao is also home to a work that the author himself considers the most important of his career, “The Matter of Time”. Although considered primarily a sculptor, his extensive artistic output includes other disciplines such as prints and drawings and film. He recorded a series of films towards the end of the 60s, including “Hand Catching Lead” and “Hands Tied”, both in 1968, which focus on the repetitive, systematic execution of simple tasks.

He holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Yale, London and the Public University of Navarra, among others, as well as being a Chevalier (1985) and Commander (2008) of the French Order of Arts and Letters. In 2008 he was decorated with the newly created Order of the Arts and Letters of Spain, granted by the Ministry of Culture. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was presented with the Emperor’s Ring of the German City of Goslar and the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture of Japan in 1994, among other distinctions.

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