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Torque of the town
Richard Serra at the Addison, Barbara Gallucci at Green Street & gallery Kayafas

There’s an exquisite balance between gravity and weightlessness in Richard Serra’s art, from the work he made in the late 1960s by splashing molten lead into the juncture where wall meets floor to his massive, Cor-Ten steel ellipses from the late 1990s, which dwarf (and vaguely threaten) viewers who walk through them like enormous, calligraphic mazes. And since the early 1970s, Serra has been experimenting with printmaking as well, producing over the past three decades a large and varied body of work on paper that’s had the same sort of dizzying visceral effect on viewers as has his three-dimensional work. Forty of these prints are on view at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover in "Richard Serra: Large Scale Prints," and there’ll be a free, public opening reception there next Friday.

Driven by a concern with the physical properties of sculpture and its materials, Serra’s art includes a famous group of pieces known as the Prop Series, wherein metal sheets and poles are propped up against one another and held there by gravity. His work on paper extends these spatial and physical investigations, and the Andover exhibition includes early lithographs that relate to this groundbreaking series as well as more recent work that explores themes generated by a sculptural project on the tiny Icelandic island of Videy (near Reykjavík) and prints of spirals inspired by his series of torqued ellipses that was seen at the Dia installation in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood in 1997-’98. Serra’s desire that the viewer experience, rather than simply see, his work, is manifested in the sheer size of his prints, which require you to look, move, then look again before you can take in the towering images.

Size matters too at the Gallery @ Green Street as the feisty gallery in a T Stop opens "Barbara Gallucci: Do-It-Yourself" next Friday. This is the first solo exhibition in Boston by this talented artist, who examines intersections among sculpture, furniture, and design by way of large-scale wood-and-aluminum sculpture, big color photos, and video work. In "Do-It-Yourself," Gallucci trains her eye on well-known Modernist furniture designs like Le Corbusier’s "Le petit confort" chair and sofa, reconstructing (that’s different from deconstructing!) the iconic black leather and chrome items at 50 percent over their original size in 100 percent Home Depot plywood and aluminum pipe. Her video installation, which was actually filmed at the aforementioned DIY paradise, juxtaposes the ambient sounds of beeping forklifts and enthusiastic customers with dialogue from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman . . . the American Dream and its flip side. Gallucci’s mesmerizing photographic investigation of interiors at Levittown, Long Island (America’s first "suburban community"), will be on view concurrently in "Ranch ’50," which opens at galleryKayafas on February 5. Turns out, the 17,000 houses in the Levittown development were all derived from five basic designs, one of which was called the 1950 Ranch House. In her photographs at galleryKayafas, Gallucci looks at a once thoroughly modern design feature of the Ranch House that the artist has come to call the "TV Wall," a recessed space in each living-room wall into which a television set was built, to record what has become of them. Her photos highlight the great promise as well as the sometimes mundane reality that has been the fate of both modern design and utopian ideas.

"Richard Serra: Large Scale Prints" is at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy in Andover, through March 29, with an opening reception on January 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; call (978) 749-4015. "Barbara Gallucci: Do-It-Yourself" is at the Gallery @ Green Street, 141 Green Street in Jamaica Plain, January 30 through March 6, with an artist’s talk on January 31 at noon; call (617) 522-0000. "Ranch ’50" is at galleryKayafas, 450 Harrison Avenue in the South End, February 5 through 28; call (617) 482-0411.


Issue Date: January 23 - 29, 2004
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