Following on from my discussion of Richard Serra’s Trip Hammer, I came across an article in Nero Magazine about his piece called Tilted Arc which was installed across a plaza in New York in the 1980’s. It was constructed in 1981 and removed in the dead of night in 1989, after court cases and appeals from many artists and critics, 122 people testified in favour of keeping it and only 59 in favour of removing it, yet it was removed anyway. Its an interesting article. http://www.neromagazine.it/magazine/index.php?c=articolo&idart=1069&idnum=41&num=31
Many artists and critics testified, below is what Roberta Smith had to say:
“My name is Roberta Smith. I am an art critic. I have written for Art in America, Artforum, and the Village Voice. I speak here today as a citizen of New York City, a member of the art world, and also as a resident of downtown Manhattan who lives and works within five minutes of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc.
The Tilted Arc is a work of art I want to defend in terms of civic pride, aesthetic quality and local illumination. New York is a town in which many good and often great building have been torn down to be replaced by ugly ones.
This is a confrontational, aggressive piece in a confrontational, aggressive town, in a part of the city where confrontations in court are particularly the order of the day. Serra wanted a piece you could not ignore but that you had to look at and think about every time you came near it. It is not wide entertainment and it is not an escape from reality, but it does ask you to examine its own reality, its scale, its material, its tilted sweep, and so the other things around it; and it is, as Serra has said, open to a multitude of readings.
It is not an easy work. It is disconcerting, but it takes years of schooling before you can read the classics of literature, and many of them are extremely disconcerting too. I ask you gentlemen – and it should be pointed out that these are all gentlemen on this panel, there are no women represented here – to look and think and work again, and to think not only about the plight of this piece, but also about the plight of culture in this country.”