Francesco Urbano Ragazzi

Curator's Key.
Richard Serra's Promenade.

Spike Art Magazine #71
Spring 2022

Spike. Richard Serra’s Promenade

Curator’s Key is Spike Art Magazine’s column in which a guest is invited to talk about a work that they keep coming back to. In issue #71, dedicated to couples in art, Francesco Urbano Ragazzi’s text is dedicated to Promenade, an environmental sculpture by Richard Serra presented at the Grand Palais in Paris for the second edition of Monumenta in 2008.

“That work seemed to create a magnetic field. There were five long, narrow steel plates that cut through the space, standing straight out from the concrete floor. Five slabs, each seventeen metres high, four metres wide, thirteen centimeters thick, weighing seventy-five metric tons, tilted by 1.69 degrees and spaced twenty-eight metres apart. They were surrounded by the huge aisles of the Grand Palais: 13,500 square metres in the Nave, the great hall underneath the largest glass roof in Europe; 72,000 square metres of gross floor space; 6,000 tons of steel covered with sixty tons of mignonette green paint; 200,000 tons of stone; two million visitors a year.

Richard Serra called it Promenade (2008). The simplest thing in the world, yet we could have spent our whole lives contemplating it. That work, that walk, that promenade, was endless. It remained new with every step of every visitor. With every glance of every viewer. Deeply earthly, but at the same time aerial, otherworldly. As if a new unit of measurement had imposed itself and would finally liberate us from human miseries […]”

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