Richard Serra’s early work in the 1960s focused on the industrial materials that he had worked with as a youth in West Coast steel mills and shipyards: steel and lead. Since those Minimalist beginnings, Serra’s work has become famous for that same physicality—but one that is now compounded by the breathtaking size and weight that the pieces have acquired. His series of Torqued Ellipses (1996–99)—which comprise gigantic plates of towering steel, bent and curved, leaning in and out—carve very private spaces from the necessarily large public sites in which they have been erected.

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