Richard Serra - In Constant Motion

00:04:23 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Curator of modern and contemporary art Saskia van Kampen-Prein tells us more about the history and making off the Waxing Arcs by Richard Serra, shown in the Serra Gallery in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Richard Serra

Richard Serra is an American minimalist sculptor and video artist known for working with large-scale assemblies of sheet metal.

Read more about the artist

Until 15 November 2015 the street-side space known as Boijmans's 'Serra Gallery' is being devoted to the history of 'Waxing Arcs' by Richard Serra (b. San Francisco, 1939), a work that consists of two gigantic arcs of steel in an otherwise empty space. The multimedia presentation examines the work's history. A twelve-minute multimedia experience will help to transport the visitor into the story about 'Waxing Arcs' and the artist Richard Serra, including the work's museum-related history and the perception of the space. With this Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen wants to bring one of the museum's most remarkable works of art to life and offer the public an insight into what normally remains hidden. 

A new experience 

Serra created the work in 1980 for his solo exhibition at the museum. Shortly thereafter it was acquired by the then director, Wim Beeren. Serra's underlying idea for this imposing work was that the public would experience the space differently as they walk through or past it, in part because of how the arcs are positioned within the space. 

Part of the architecture 

Since the 1980s the museum's architecture has changed several times, including the gallery where the work of art was originally installed. For example, the circulation routes have been altered (the museum's entrance used to be to the left of the current gallery, and was later directly from the street via this wing). The original flight of stairs between the arcs has been replaced by a ramp, the ceiling raised and the tiles superseded by a concrete floor. The work of art itself has not remained untouched either: it has been replaced by a new version with different dimensions. This second version is more than a meter higher and half a centimeter thicker than the original work. The dimensions of the gallery itself have been doubled and it is occasionally used to display other works of art. 


Extensive research has been done prior to the exhibition. Read more about the artist, the history of the work and the changes it has gone through here. Also, on 14 November 2014 the museum organized a symposium together with the Stichting Behoud Moderne Kunst (SBMK, the Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art) to shed light on various works by Serra in the collections of Dutch museums. The speakers included restorers and curators who work at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Bonnefanten Museum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and SBMK, as well as freelance art historian Jan van Adrichem. All these museums and institutions have work by Richard Serra in their collections.

Watch also the registration video of the multimedia presentation:


Video credits

  • The multimedia exhibition was made possible by the generous support from the Mondriaan Fund and the BankGiro Loterij. 
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