The Tilted Arc

Mallory Rose
Richard Serra
“The Tilted Arc”

Modern art embodies pleasure and self-governed confidence. Specifically postmodern art is the epitome of cool, but often mistaken for washed-up laziness. With bold color, texture and emotion, postmodern art is the prime freedom of expression. The rejection of the rejection. The constructed form of art has created a visual vocabulary for expressionist. Although often misunderstood for lack of knowing anything at all, modern art has more heart than premodern, classical art. Essentially modern and postmodern art are a visual journal of the artist being. Personally by far more captivating than baroque compositions painted by the masters. Understandably arguable and consequently not always as talented. Nonetheless, postmodern art is cool, moving and vulnerable.
In 1981, modern artist Richard Serra installed a sculpture “Tilted Arc” at Federal Plaza, New York City, NY. Slightly curved at 120 feet long by 12 feet high, the steel sculpture divided the Plaza with bold ambition. The controversy installed subsequent to the celebration. Late after the piece has been displayed a hearing and vote had been taken and demanded the work removed. Serra refused the removal of the sculpture and stated “To remove the work is to destroy it.”
In March of 1989 the sculpture was demolished. This piece is beautifully controversial because of it’s modern and postmodern conflicts hence it’s public installation issues. Modern art discards the classical knowledge that premodern art thrives from. Postmodern art discards the discard of modern art. These almost identical characteristics of art are directly parallel to the Tilted Arc piece itself.
In contrast Richards Serra’s work is an obstacle of not only physical misdirection but represents a unstated mental miscommunication. A modernist would view this piece with a purpose. Messages from Serra’s work given to society about barriers of life, government and civilization. Where a postmodernist would declare the work the rejection of society and that the piece has no hidden message, it is simply art.
This piece reminds me of the Vietnam memorial. It is beautiful, substantial and bold. I greatly appreciate the powerful gesture and inconvenience. The separation or segregation of this piece speak loudly towards America. Quite frankly it is not surprising how quickly the public is aggravated by the piece. Unfortunately it is not the physical structure that bothers NYC, but the self negligent, influence and fearful judgement. It is common sense that people do not like what they do not understand. Simple stated, I believe people were too selfish to respect such a monumental piece of art, too disabled to walk around it and too uneducated to appreciate it.
I am personally keen for the courageous inconvenience that Serra has provoked. I admire the purpose or lack there of, for causing people to get riled up. Thinking back on the museum trips I have taken in my twenty one years, I always assumed artist were trying to be bold and to be bold meant big, but I never understood the sculpture itself. With a increase in education I so greatly appreciate the knowledge of ambition and value in modern art, specifically this piece. I am curious if Richard Serra ever knew this piece could generate such theories. The “Tilted Arc” is the epitome of modern art and ironically postmodern art as well. It is a pity that such a remarkable piece is not recognized for it’s controversial and unconscious elegance. A steel wall, blocking a courtyard is thankfully so much more than what it physically standing. I am proud to be present in the society that Richard Serra participates in. Weather or not he is a modern artist, rejecting classical Rembrandt or a postmodern artist rejecting the rejection. He is an artist and he is visually and mentally satisfying. People are thinking, rejecting what they do not know and using what they think they do. One of my favorite quotes is “It’s amazing how few people think what they think they think.” Richard Serra is not one of these people, he has proven to me that art is not what is physically there, but what you choose to be there. It is everything you think, you think. This piece is by far one of my top five favorite pieces I have ever explored.
In conclusion, this self-governed confidence is the best freedom I have acquired. It is accepting rejection and expressing your personal opinion of ‘cool’. Among controversy and barriers that Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc” has evoked, this piece allows me to appreciate something that is not just what it looks like. Qualities that I think are immensely important to any individual, artist or not. This visual journal is one that I would not only fancy more of but aspire to be.

I had to post this, I was just too excited about it &the piece itself. Hm.. win.


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