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Artaud and Richard Serra

Artaud and Richard Serra, Artaud, 2009

Smart Museum of Art

Hi. My name is Milo Last-Yuen and I’m an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and I’m a student in the Monochrome Multitudes seminar.  

Entitled Artaud after French playwright Antonin Artaud, this Richard Serra work is reflective of Artaud’s influence. I will read a quote from his play “To Have Done with the Judgment of God” that engages particularly well with the visual and theoretical themes of Serra’s piece: 

“And below, as if at the foot of the bitter slope, cruelly despairing at the heart gapes the circle of the six crosses very low, as if embedded in the Mother Earth, wrenched from the foul embrace of the mother who drools. The earth of black hole is the only damp place in this cleft rock. The right is that the new sun passes through seven points before blazing on the orifice of the earth.”

This excerpt of a play engages with Serra’s aesthetic, providing a complement to the visual experience of the painting. The grainy black dimensionality of the artwork is reminiscent of the materiality of coal and earth Artaud speaks to and its crater-like shape resembles the orifice of the Earth. 

Serra’s piece provides an Earth and experience, its physicality synthesizing with the embrace Artaud references. We can see in the artwork Artaud’s influence and through hearing this quote, consider the mysticism of natural imagery present in this work. 

A gallery space filled with black monochrome artworks

Installation view, <em>Monochrome Multitudes</em>, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 2022. Photo by Tyler Mallory.

Installation view, Monochrome Multitudes, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 2022. Photo by Tyler Mallory.

Long Image Description

Long descriptions are text versions of the information provided in a detailed or complex image, like the image above.

n this asymmetrical picture, the monochrome black artworks form a sharp contrast with the white space—white walls, white lights, a white floor, a white ceiling, and a white pedestal. In the foreground a black vase sits on the pedestal. On the far wall are four black artworks; a black photograph, a large drawing of a circle made with thick black marks and splatters that fill the corners, a medium sized cubist painting, and a drawing in ink with reflective ridges.

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