The following article appeared in the NY Times online edition this afternoon: Rusting in a Crane Yard, Steel Art With a Pedigree
Richard Perry/The New York Times
This is just too perfect. Most of Serra's sculptures look like a part of the hull of a rusty old oil tanker, and they would actually look far more at home in a shipyard than at the Guggenheim. It certainly doesn't look at all out of place in this heating oil terminal. The article describes his work as a "secret grace note." It's probably a very well kept secret -- exactly zero people who drive by the yard probably recognize it as art.
In the picture above, the heavy duty construction truck actually looks more like art than Serra's sculpture; at least there's a certain beauty to its functionality, whereas the "sculpture" is perfectly useless. (Doesn't "sculpture" imply that some sculpting has gone on?) Serra's work looks like a misplaced factory smokestack, or perhaps one of those containers where they store the salt they put on snowy roads. It's probably the ugliest thing in that terminal yard.
But Sam Dolnick, the author of the Times article, doesn't feel that way. In a later paragraph he says:
Whether art or art-to-be, it is striking just the same. Seen from the lot next door, it is a rusty mirage, an amber curve that overshadows a nearby crane truck and stands next to a corrugated tin shed of similar size if not sensuality. When the sun hits the delicate outer slope, it shimmers. In place of the usual curatorial card that might provide some insight as to the material or inspiration behind the work, there is a sign saying, “No Trespassing, No Dumping.”
No dumping? Oops, too late.
I've been told that a large percentage of Times reporters are gay. I'm a supporter of gay rights -- as I've stated many times in this blog -- but the above paragraph sets my gaydar clanging like a fleet of fire engines on their way to a five alarm. So I'm mystified by Dolnick's reference to the color of the ship's hull as "amber." Gays are generally good with colors. And whatever hue that rusty old monstrosity is, it's not amber, which is the color of honey.
Dolnick is not the only one who appreciates the emperor's new outfit. Here he quotes another fan:
Told of the unlikely exhibition, Eric Stark, curator of the New School Art Collection, made the pilgrimage one recent morning to see for himself. “Wow,” he said, walking up to the fence. “If you’ve seen enough of these ellipses, it just screams out that this is a Richard Serra.”
Nearby, a shopping cart lay in the shrubs. Used condoms and decomposing cardboard littered the ground. “I find the whole thing incredibly poetic,” Mr. Stark said.
True enough: if a Serra sculpture is art, then used condoms are poetry.
I find the whole thing incredibly perfect. (Not the "art," the irony.)