Richard Serra was born in California in 1939, studied English, then art at Yale, paying for his studies by working in a steel mill.
On holiday in Paris in 1965 seeing Brancusi tips him definitively towards sculpture, and the year later he shows work in Rome, and goes to live in New York.
His work is massive, monumental, and created for the environments in which they stand…which had better be big. Indoors his sweeping vistas of steel quickly become claustrophobic, or resemble crouched beasts just waiting to spring free.
His sculptures have often been controversial, being relocated , destroyed, even lost, which bearing in mind their size and weight sounds pretty incredible. Yet some say he is the planet’s greatest living sculptor.
Steel itself was never thought of as a fine-art material on this industrial scale before Serra. He has taken simple milled or rolled base metal and twisted or cut it to the simplest of shapes, turning it into gold.