Richard Serra began creating drawings in 1971, and they continue to constitute an autonomous part of his practice. Often large in scale, the artist’s drawings are typically made with a thick impasto of black paintstick (or, more recently, lithographic crayons melted and formed into a brick), which is applied to a surface in broad, dense passages. Serra’s exclusive use of black in these abstract works absorbs and reduces light, conveying a sense of weight, gravity, and mass.

Begun in the summer of 2013, Serra’s “Reversal” drawings, of which the present work, Rio Vertical Reversal #1, 2013, is an example, employ two identical rectangular sheets of paper that are adjoined in a vertical or horizontal format so that the black and white areas reverse themselves proportionally top to bottom (or left to right). The area that is black on the top (or left) sheet is white on the bottom (or right) sheet, and the area that is white on the top (or left) sheet is black on the bottom (or right) sheet in a figure/ground reversal. With these works, Serra expands upon his longstanding interest in the physical versus the cognitive perception of form.

Rio Vertical Reversal #1, 2013 is reproduced in life-size in this poster on the occasion of the exhibition Richard Serra: Vertical and Horizontal Reversals.

Rio Vertical Reversal #1, 2013
Litho crayon on handmade paper in two (2) parts
52 1/2 x 18 1/4 inches (133.3 x 46.4 cm)