Monday, August 6, 2007

Stretch

Anyone who has seen the exhibition Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years at MoMA in New York will agree with the critics that he has emerged as one of America’s greatest artists. The scale, the ambition and the sheer sensual power of Serra’s monumental sculptures are out on their own, speaking for the American spirit in a way few other works do. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I am fascinated by Serra as the unlikely inspiration of a heavy industrial enterprise called PICKHAN Heavy Fabrication. Based in Germany, this company fabricates oil drilling platforms as well as cones, toroidal and spherical plates, pressings, special weldments, and Serra’s masterpieces. So far they have made over 50 of them, working in close cooperation with Serra on design and development, production of mock ups, fabrication and finally rigging and installation. On their website, they list sculpture with pride as one of their business areas alongside shipbuilding, ship cranes, oil platforms, and aircraft construction. What Serra offers them is stretch. He challenges them to solve structural problems that are not often found in their usual business. The result? PICKHAN feels confident enough to take on projects they would previously have found too daunting. That’s what great art can do and that’s why I love having it around.