A new major sculpture by acclaimed American artist Richard Serra will join Kenyon’s permanent collection, the result of a gift from Graham Gund ’63 H’81 and his wife, Ann.
The sculpture will be a focal point for the new West Quad, which, once complete, will include a new library, admissions building, interdisciplinary academic building and underground parking. Currently untitled, the sculpture will feature 5 plates of weathering steel, each 60 feet tall, 3 inches thick and weighing 60 tons apiece. The plates, 10 feet wide at their bases and tapering to 7 feet at the top, will join together in a pentagonal tower. Over time, the steel will oxidize, leading to a natural rusting look.
“I am thrilled that the new west courtyard on the Kenyon campus will have a work by Richard Serra, one of America’s greatest living artists. This is an exciting addition to the arts at Kenyon,” Gund said.
Serra, recently featured in the New York Times, often designs his works to engage with a particular architectural, urban or landscape setting, and his sculptures are known to transform the spaces in which they exist. Their large scale and the materials used elicit reflection on the ways in which people engage with a place. His Kenyon sculpture will open to the sky, and viewers will be encouraged to walk both around and through the work.
“We are deeply grateful to Graham and Ann Gund for their generosity in making this extraordinary gift. With this addition to campus, and thanks to previous contributions from the Gunds, generations of Kenyon students will have unparalleled opportunities to engage with contemporary art not only inside the classroom, but wherever they travel throughout campus,” President Sean Decatur said. “Serra’s sculptures invite contemplation and reflection on one’s surroundings — an invitation that the Kenyon community eagerly accepts.”
Prior to this gift, the Gunds contributed more than 80 major works of art to the permanent collection of Kenyon’s Gund Gallery, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Dale Chihuly and Kiki Smith, as well as “Pore,” a sculpture by acclaimed British artist Antony Gormley.
“Richard Serra’s work transforms its space to change our visual paths in surprising ways. It is a fitting gift from a man who himself has been so profoundly committed to retaining and enhancing the beauty of Kenyon’s campus,” said David Horvitz ’74 H’98, member of the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and co-chair of Our Path Forward, Kenyon’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. “As a result of Graham Gund’s dedication to visual arts and architecture at the college, Kenyon’s campus has become its own gallery, where students and faculty are moved every day by the presence of the finest 20th- and 21st-century art in their midst. Graham’s generous gift will heighten the student experience for decades to come.”
Serra’s work is on display at sites around the world, including Spain, Qatar, New Zealand and Germany. Fabrication of the steel plates for his Kenyon installation will commence this fall in Germany, and the plates will be transported to Kenyon’s campus in June 2020 and lifted into place by crane.