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Doctors Honoris Causa

Richard Serra

Award date: 24th of April 2009, Day of the University

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Richard SerraBorn in San Francisco in 1939, Richard Serra has been the subject of large-scale individual exhibitions at the world’s foremost museums of contemporary art: Paris’ Centre Pompidou (1983), the Tate Gallery in London (1992) and the MoMA, New York (1986, 2007). Regularly invited to take part in the most relevant avant-garde events in the world (documenta of Kassel, Venice Biennale), his work is exhibited in approximately one hundred museums in Europe, the USA, New Zealand and Asia. He has received the most significant prizes and accolades awarded for sculpture, such as the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1975) awarded by the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (USA), the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture (1994) awarded by the Japan Art Association and the Gold Medal for Sculpture (2001) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Akademie der Kunst (Germany), as well as having been named member of the "Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste" (2002) in Germany and Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2008) in France. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the California College of Arts and Crafts, the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, and Williams College (Massachusetts), among other distinctions awarded by a range of American and European institutions. Last December, he was named a member of the newly-created "Orden de las Artes y las Letras de España".

Son of a Majorcan, Richard Serra has always maintained a close relationship with Spain through a wide range of initiatives and projects, which got off the ground in the 80s with his participation in the exhibition "Correspondencias" (1982-83), shown in Madrid, Malaga and Bilbao. For this exhibition, he made two works in situ in Madrid and Bilbao: Step (1982) and Bilbao (1983). In 1982-84, he installed the permanent work La palmera in the Plaça de la Palmera in Barcelona.

In the same decade, the opening of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 1986 saw the commissioning of the monumental installation Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi, which unfortunately disappeared, only to be voluntarily remade by the artist and reinstalled at Reina Sofia last year. In 1986, he also reconstructed one of his most emblematic works, Splashing, in situ, this time for the exhibition "Between geometry and gesture. North American sculpture, 1965-1975" (Madrid, Palacio de Velázquez), at which other works by the sculptor were also exhibited.

In 1992 and 1999, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao ran individual exhibitions of Serra’s work, the former being a retrospective. For its opening in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao installed the permanent exhibit Snake, a commission which was joined in 2005 by The Matter of Time, a monumental assembly of eight sculptures -including Snake- considered "Serra's most complete rumination on the physicality of space and the nature of sculpture".

Special mention should be made here of the fact that from 1982 onwards, Richard Serra has on several occasions expressed an admiration for the work of Jorge Oteiza.


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