After being indoors at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the last three years, Richard Serra’s sculpture Sequence has returned to the Cantor Arts Center to stand again in the open air.
Sometimes a work of art leaves both metaphorical and physical marks, causing us to consider the physical space it occupied, as well as its impact, long after it’s gone. Such is the case with Richard Serra’s massive steel sculpture Sequence, one of the distinguished artist’s greatest achievements.
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Housed from 2011 to 2015 outdoors, near the Cantor Art Center’s North Lawn, Sequence literally left behind its footprint, reminding visitors where all 235 tons of it once stood. And now, after being indoors at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the last three years, Sequence has returned to the Cantor to stand again in the open air. It took 12 wide-body flatbed trucks and many rigging specialists to move the 67-foot-long, 42-foot-wide, 13-foot-high sculpture back to the Cantor last weekend.
Pushing the boundaries of engineering, the curvilinear walls of Sequence slant, creating a vertiginous experience as visitors walk through the two torqued ellipses connected with an S. “I remember feeling off-balance on entering the iron canyon and its rusting walls,” said Susan Roberts-Manganelli, director of the Cantor’s Art+Science Learning Lab. “The lack of parallel planes caused an unexpected ‘stumble’ into the space. I also loved how I felt much smaller with the open endless sky above, something that was special about our outdoor installation.”
In 2011, as it awaited installation outside the Cantor, the contoured steel was hosed down every day as part of the treatment to “cure” the sculpture, which was originally a burnt-orange color. Now, the steel has ceased to oxidize and is a permanent deep amber color. The return of Sequence is cause for both celebration and reflection. “It was always one of my favorite things to see from above and to experience from within,” said Margaret Whitehorn, the Cantor’s public relations assistant manager. “You can perceive it in so many different ways.”
Now visitors to the Cantor can again experience Sequence for themselves.