The 5 Best Art Works by Richard Serra and Where To See Them

Photo of Luca Pinelli
11 December 2015

Born on the second of November 1939, Richard Serra is one of the most important artists of the contemporary era. He is famed for working with metal sheets and for creating a special connection between the viewer, the work and the space in which they find themselves. His artworks have often adapted to surrounding environments in order to create an art which is tangible and subject to physical experience. Check out these 5 concrete pieces that are must-sees…

‘The Matter of Time’ from the inside | © Christine und Hagen Graf/Flickr

‘The Matter of Time’

An installation of seven sculptures made out of weatherproof steel and located in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, ‘The Matter of Time’ takes viewers for a walk around, in, and through, its meanders and the room in which it is situated. The sinuous lines of the sculptures impart a dynamic and elegant aspect to the installation that is hard to match. The sculpture’s title refers both to the chronological time it takes to visit this installation and to the “experiential time” encountered within.


55 feet tall, ‘Fulcrum’ is a vertical group of rusty metal sheets located near Liverpool Street Station in London. Its stature seems to suggest that this kind of art is beyond human comprehension, but upon closer inspection, ‘Fulcrum’ reveals itself to be a nodal point of humanity. In fact, anyone interested in this sculpture can feel free to lean against it and observe the world go by – they will feel like they are truly at the centre of the city; right at its fulcrum. The metal sheets also act to create an internal space which is lit by night in order to highlight its wonderful shapes.

‘Bramme for the Ruhr-district’/Halde Schurenbach | © die.tine/Flickr

‘Bramme for the Ruhr-district’

The Ruhr-district is an area located in western Germany which was once the kernel of the nation’s industrial revolution. In this area, there are still smokestacks which remind visitors of the industrious past along with slag heaps and coal refuse which used to be dumped here. In order to shed light on the downsides of the Industrial Revolution, this work by Serra stands as a solitary, barren monument in a wasteland. Once again, Richard Serra managed to create a fascinating link between place, artwork and the viewer, thus suggesting that art is concrete and must be touched and experienced.

‘New Union’

A monumental artwork measuring 3.6 metres tall, 10.8 metres wide, and 3.6 metres thick, ‘New Union’ is a majestic group of planks made of weathering steel that is located in front of the Museum of Fine Art in Bilbao. According to the angle from which the viewer observes it, ‘New Union’ takes on different shapes and forms. It is a combination of stasis and dynamics, looking like a huge, curved ship if observed from the front.

‘Inside Out’

As humans, we all derive our sense of space and orientation from the surrounding environment. With ‘Inside Out’, Richard Serra challenges our senses through a very peculiar labyrinth: in fact, the path visitors are drawn into gets narrower at times, leads to a dead end, or gets much larger, more curved and heads in circles. With an original blend of shapes and curves, ‘Inside Out’ exemplifies that kind of art which is mesmerizing, physical, and effective. Created in 2013 and on display at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, ‘Inside Out’ has impressed many a visitor with its meandering path and sinuous shapes.

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