Recovering Site and Mind: Richard Serra’s Sequence Arrives at Stanford

September 12, 2011

By Rob Marks

Daily Serving

Over the course of its three-day installation in July 2011, Richard Serra’s “Sequence,” on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation, both reveals itself and conceals the expansive space it inhabits. Photos: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

[…] Budco Enterprises ha[s] handled all of Serra’s North American installations for the past 20 years. The dangerous experiment is, instead, the transplantation of the sixty-five by forty-foot labyrinthine sculpture into a site that the artist did not specify when he first created the piece.

Two 20-ton plates from Richard Serra’s Sequence, on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation, swing into place. Video: Rob Marks, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

[…]Sequence [was] conceived for a gallery at the New York Museum of Modern Art and installed there in 2007 for Serrra’s 40-year retrospective, the sculpture traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2008. This year, Sequence, now owned by the Fisher Art Foundation, traveled from LACMA to the Cantor Arts Center, where it is currently on loan from the foundation and where it will reside until in 2016. Then it will move, perhaps finally, 35 miles northwest to a new wing of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Left: Trailer as it prepares to move a plate from storage lot to installation site. Riggers remove the chains holding a plate to its trailer. Photos: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Left: Master Rigger Joe Vilardi (center, in black shirt), and riggers John Barbieri, Joe Berlese, and Bill Maroney, survey the concrete slab. Right: Master Rigger Joe Vilardi (right) and rigger John Barbieri (left) plot reference points that will guide the installation of Richard Serra’s “Sequence” (on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation). Photo: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Left photos: Lost inside Richard Serra’s Sequence (on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation). Right: Parapets of the museum’s old wing peek above the sculpture. Photo: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Half of Richard Serra’s “Sequence” (on loan by the Fisher Art Foundation) nestled in the cul-de-sac formed by the museum’s old and new wings. Photo: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

At 1:00 p.m., the pad is empty. Seen from the second-floor McMurtry Family Terrace of the new wing, the 200-ton crane that would lift each plate sat idly on the dirt to the left of the slab, the site of a past and future lawn. In the distance, each of the steel plates sat on its own flatbed trailer. The silence was barely disturbed by the arrival of Budco Master Rigger Joe Vilardi and his crew. Brandishing a floor plan, a T-square, two tape measures, a spool of hot pink twine, a roll of lime green masking tape, a hammer and stakes, the team carefully mapped out the reference points for each steel plate to guide the assembly of the sculpture.

Joe Berlese (left) and Domingo Tejada work with John Barbieri and Joe Vilardi (behind the plate in the left hand photo) to guide it into position. Photos: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. “Sequence” is on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation.

Over the course of the next three days, the assembly unfolded, at times like a dance, but one that never masked the painstaking process of hauling the trailers, attaching the plates to the crane, hoisting, swinging, lowering, and positioning the plates, and winching, clamping, hammering, grinding, and welding.

Riggers from Budco Enterprises undertake a variety of tasks to install Richard Serra’s Sequence, on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation. Video: Rob Marks, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Time-lapse video portrays the four-day installation of Richard Serra’s Sequence, on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation. Video: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Landmarks of the Cantor Arts Center do little to orient the participant walking through Richard Serra’s “Sequence,” on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation. Photos: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Video of a walk through the interior passage of Richard Serra’s Sequence, on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation. Video: Rob Marks, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

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Richard Serra’s Sequence, on loan from the Fisher Art Foundation, is on view now at the Cantor Arts Center. Photos: Saul Rosenfield, © 2011, with permission of Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.