Richard Serra’s Steel Behemoths Get Into Your Head

Richard Serra may have his ideological detractors, but he is certainly today’s greatest living sculptor of Minimalist abstraction. Exhibitions of new works occupying Gagosian Gallery’s two Chelsea display spaces find Mr. Serra at 76 still wrangling fundamentals of shape, space, gravity and time into objects and installations of thrilling severity.

The most arresting piece at West 24th Street is “Silence (for John Cage),” an 80-ton slab of forged steel lying flat on the floor. Knee-high and 29 ½ feet by 9 feet 2 inches, it astounds by virtue of its sheer mass, its rugged physicality intensified by contrast with the pristine white walls of the gallery.

It’s worth noting Mr. Serra’s titular dedication to Cage, the avant-garde musician whose most famous composition, for piano, “4’33”,” consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence.


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