Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
© Benjamin Benschneider



Richard Serra

American, 1938 - 2024

For Richard Serra, space is a substance as tangible as sculpture. He uses materials and scale to alter perception and to engage the body, encouraging consciousness of our relation to space. The towering, curved steel forms of Wake were achieved with computer imaging and machines that manufacture ship hulls, including a demilitarized machine that once made French nuclear submarines. It is composed of five identical modules, each with two S-shaped sections positioned in inverted relation to one another—gently curving serpentines of convex and concave parts that suggest tidal waves or profiles of battleships. The surface of acid-washed, weather-proof steel reinforces this industrial effect. Wake's powerful silhouette belies a complex configuration of parts: the whole cannot be known at once, only experienced with physical movement and progressively over time.

10 plates, 5 sets of locked toroid forms, weatherproof steel
each set, overall: 14 ft. 1 1/4 in. x 48 ft. 4 in. x 6 ft. 4 3/8 in.; overall installation: 14 ft. 1 1/4 in. x 125 ft. x 46 ft.; plate thickness 2 in.; weight: 30 tons (each plate)
Purchased with funds from Jeffrey and Susan Brotman, Virginia and Bagley Wright, Ann Wyckoff, and the Modern Art Acquisition Fund, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: [Gagosian Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, 2004
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
Now on view at the Olympic Sculture Park

What's important is you moving between them, through them, and around them as they undulate; it's your body moving in relation to their surface that moves.

Richard Serra


For SAM’s My Favorite Things series in 2019, Brazilian artist Regina Silveira highlights Richard Serra’s Wake.


Exhibition HistoryNew York, Gagosian Gallery, Richard Serra: Wake, Blindspot, Catwalk, Vice-Versa, Sept. 20–Oct. 25, 2003.
Published ReferencesFrancis, Mark, "Recent Works: Richard Serra", 2008, pg. 27 - 31

Ishikawa, Chiyo, ed. "A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. p. 99

Corrin, Lisa Graziose et al. "Olympic Sculpture Park." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. pp. 50-51

Kangas, Matthew, "Sculpture", October 2007, Vol 26, No. 8

"Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures." London: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007, pp. 76-77

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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