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Serra to create a piece for OCPAC

October 27, 2005|Suzanne Muchnic | Times Staff Writer

THE Orange County Performing Arts Center will announce Friday that it has commissioned New York artist Richard Serra to create a steel sculpture for the rapidly growing arts complex in Costa Mesa. Soaring to about 60 feet and spreading about 20 feet at its base, the artwork will be the centerpiece of a plaza connecting the performing arts center to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Serra's work and the concert hall will be inaugurated in September 2006.

The untitled sculpture, under construction in Siegen, Germany, was commissioned at an undisclosed price by the center's founding chairman, Henry Segerstrom, and his wife, Elizabeth.

Serra has designed a walk-through artwork for the main axis of the plaza. Five torqued steel plates on a pentagonal base will taper to a 4-foot opening at the top. Visitors may enter and exit through two 4-foot-wide spaces.

"It truncates and turns as it goes up," Serra said. "In a sense, you are in a torquing oculus."

The sculpture is the largest of three major Serras scheduled for installation in Southern California in the next year and a half. A 42.5-ton work awaits installation at UCLA, at the Edythe L. and Eli Broad Center, a fine arts complex to open May 20, 2006. Another will be unveiled at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's downtown campus around the end of 2006.

All three have evolved from Serra's critically acclaimed "Torqued Ellipses" series, introduced at New York's DIA Center for the Arts in 1997, Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art in 1998 and Bilbao, Spain's Guggenheim Museum in 1999. Hailed as a brilliant breakthrough, the "Torqued Ellipses" merged Serra's trademark brute force and massive scale with seductively elusive space. Viewers can walk around and inside the enormous curved enclosures, but it is impossible to grasp the full sweep of their asymmetrical contours and volumes from a single vantage point.

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