Richard Serra Debuts First Public Sculpture in Middle East

December 17, 2011  |   News,   World
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Internationally acclaimed American artist Richard Serra has made a new work, titled 7, which is 80-feet tall, eight-feet wide and four inches thick, and is the artist’s tallest sculpture to date (and also his first public work in the Middle East). Of the work, Serra explained in a statement:

“I titled the sculpture 7; just the numeral, not the word. The sculpture is made of seven plates of steel, which form a seven-sided shape on the ground with three triangular openings and a seven-sided aperture at the top. The title, 7, simply reiterates the construction and plan of the sculpture.”

Incidentally, Serra picked a number with a lot of significance.

“It is my understanding,” he said, “that there are many references in the Qur’an to the number 7. The number 7 is also central to an important discovery by the great 10th-century Persian mathematician and astronomer Abu Sahl al-Quhi. Archimedes had introduced the concept of a regular heptagon into geometry but it had remained unexplored for centuries. It was Abu Sahl who proved that a regular heptagon could be constructed into a form.”

Serra’s sculpture was commissioned for The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in its new 62-acre park on the waterfront of Doha, Qatar. The park is designed by Pei Partnership Architects of New York.

“MIA Park will be a dynamic place of learning and exploration for children, families and art enthusiasts, with cultural, educational and recreational activities designed to attract one and all,” said Qatar Museum Authority (QMA) Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. “We are especially proud that this new destination will feature an extraordinary work by Richard Serra, one of the leading sculptors of our time. Like the Museum of Islamic Art itself, Richard Serra’s sculpture will serve as a beacon for the arts in Qatar and will further the QMA’s mission to encourage global cultural exchange and introduce the Doha community to art from around the world.”

“It is my hope that the sculpture will provide both a public place and a private space for people to gather and experience the narrow, vertical, open column in relation to themselves, the Museum of Islamic Art, the city of Doha, the surrounding sea, and the sky as seen through the opening at the top of the sculpture,” said Richard Serra.