Dia Beacon: Andre and Serra
Written by; Efrem Zelony-Mindell

In upstate New York, an hour and a half outside the city, is a quiet one horse town called Beacon. If you’ve never been, I couldn’t blame you except for the fact that this small town retains one of the largest minimal art collections in the world. Comparing Carl Andre and Richard Serra is a bit like comparing the ceiling to the floor. We’re all in the same room, but the ceiling and the floor have vastly different perspectives of the space. The vocabulary between these men’s works is unique.

Dia Beacon has currently mounted a large retrospective of Carl Andre’s work that spans across multiple floors of the institution. Andre’s work is significantly unusual in that most of the pieces are flush against the floor. It’s difficult to engage these pieces, as this is a huge rejection of what is normally viewed as sculpture. Vast and wide, barely three dimensional at times it is rewarding to reflect on a surface that is so taken for granted: horizontal. The works are too simple to be true, often seeming accidental and unimportant in their arrangement and curation. There are no accidents.

Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses are my favorite sculptures. These four larger than life pieces made of the simplest stuff in the world, steel, stand in a room all to themselves. Serra has constructed a life; an atmosphere inside the simplicity of these monolithic pieces. Here the viewer is able to walk inside and quite literally become lost, twisting and turning at times further and further inside toward the center of his pieces. Light plays a factor, as the works can appear lighter, darker, heavier, or softer depending on that available light. These sculptures are not looked at; they are lived in.

What these works share is structure. Material, technique, and usage push toward a visual rhythm, inspiring a kind of invisible music. Tirelessly pushing the limits of their practice, Andre and Serra, are studying the significance of variation. Each sculpture is not the same and we each experience these subtleties everyday; nothing is taken for granted. In this way the works are asking viewers to perceive their approachability.

Efrem Zelony-Mindell is an artist who lives in New York. For more of his work click here …

For a similar story click here …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *