Octagon, Liverpool Street Station
Richard Serra is an American artist with an enormous global reputation, yet his equally huge sculptures continue to arouse controversy. This, the artist maintains, is precisely their point _ they must engage with their viewers and surroundings. The Fulcrum (balance) is assembled from Cor_Ten steel, which weathers into intriguing textures without compromising its structural integrity. Commissioned to create a large piece for the cramped site, Serra's response was to design upwards, creating a kind of enclosed sanctuary that makes a powerful gesture of protectiveness towards its immediate environment. It would be hard to imagine the Octagon area without this magnificent work.
At first glance Serra’s works seem massive and beyond human scale and comprehension. But spend some time with them and they soon become welcoming and interactive. This is sculpture that invites a punch and a whack with the flat of your hand.
At around 55 feet high, Fulcrum creates an incredible visual illusion, luring viewers into the belief that the five sheets of self-weathering COR-TEN steel are simply propped against each other. This feat of cutting, propping and stacking material is at the very heart of Serra's oeuvre, emphasising the process and the materials employed to fabricate his sculptures.
Interaction too plays a key role, with Serra maintaining that his works have no subject of her their own, rather that viewers become the subject once they enter the work and interact with it. Therefore, this enclosed sanctuary has three entrances, inviting us to step inside, move around, look up and perhaps indulge in a moment or two of sky gazing. Why not take a look next time you are passing on the way into the station?
Richard Serra enjoys an enormous global reputation and is celebrated for creating ground breaking pieces from large sheets of metal, affording fabricated steel the power and density traditionally belonging to bronze and stone. Born in San Francisco, he studied at the University of California (Berkeley and Santa Barbara) between 1957 and 1961, followed by studies at Yale School of Art and Architecture in New Haven from 1961 to 1964. Numerous exhibitions and installations of his work have been held internationally and, recently, a retrospective exhibition of his sculpture was staged at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art during 2010, touring to San Francisco and Houston during 2012.