St. Louis Regional Arts Commission

Public Art Details

Twain

Artist: Richard Serra
Region: Downtown St. Louis
Location: Ward 7 - Gateway Mall Plaza
Address: Market St at N 11th St, Saint Louis, MO 63101
Artist Bio:

b. 1939


Dimensions: 12' x 83' x 120'
Year completed: 1981
Material: Cor-ten steel
Owner: City of St. Louis
Donor: Private donors

Description:

Richard Serra was born in San Francisco in 1939 and studied at the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Barbara before earning his BFA and MFA from Yale in 1964. Serra’s early work focuses on minimalism, a theme that continues in his work today. His massive sculptures, which mostly consist of slightly curved plates of steel, tower vertically over the viewer or extend horizontally along the flat landscape, such as in Twain, located on a square patch of grass in downtown St. Louis. Commissioned specifically for the square-block site, Twain resembles a peripheral fence that, when viewed from above, takes the shape of a skewed triangle. The piece is composed of eight plates of weathering Cor-ten steel; seven of the plates are 40 feet long and the eighth is 50 feet long, which throws the triangle slightly off kilter.

Serra's first impression when he visited the site was how the flat landscape created an overwhelming sense of sky. He chose to emphasize the land and highlight its subtle changes by making the tops of the plates level, mimicking the slope of the land. Serra designed the piece with the narrow eastern end pointing to the Mississippi River like the prow of a boat; the other end widens out in recognition of Western Expansion. Between the plates are gaps that are two feet wide, through which people can pass. Viewing the piece from the inside provides glimpses of the surrounding architecture and street activity.


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