“Black is a property, not a quality,” Richard Serra (b. 1938) said. “A black shape can hold its space and place in relation to a larger volume and alter the mass of that volume readily.” Even in his two-dimensional artworks, Serra wields black forms as though they possess literal mass and volume.
Scroll down to view artwork from Serra and other masters of monochrome.
Paths and Edges #13
Etching on buff Lanaquarelle watercolor paper
23.50 x 35.25 in
“In terms of weight, black is heavier, creates a larger volume, holds itself in a more compressed field. […] Since black is the densest color material, it absorbs and dissipates light to a maximum and thereby changes the artificial as well as the natural light in a given room.”
10.88 x 13 in
“I did a whole series of black works—I don’t know now—twenty, thirty works. I thought it was quite difficult to make a black painting work because it has such an incredibly strong silhouette, you know? But it did a series of things. It invited you closer and closer to the work. I don’t know what I think about that yet, but I thought it was sort of an interesting phenomena that happened.”
Untitled LP 2
17.87 x 23.75 in
“There is the potential for much more spontaneity with prints than there is with the sculpture, which tends to be very slow, accretive kind of process-labor intensive.”
Bowl of Cherries
Graphite on paper
40.50 x 55 in
“I look for interesting shapes. I just start putting these things down on a piece of handmade paper, and then it’s a process of elimination to find a focal point for the piece. Then I find other things to add that make the central object out of context. What I want is surprise, surprise and strong composition, and to get that I need tension.”