Richard Serra, a master of the gigantic

[29 Mar 2024]

Richard Serra, a leading figure in Contemporary sculpture, passed away on 26 March 2024 on Long Island, near New York, just two months after the death of Carl André, another emblematic figure of American 1960s minimalism.

Recognized as one of the most famous living sculptors in the United States, Richard Serra was honored with the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and the prestigious Asturias Prize in 2010. He was represented by the Gagosian and Zwirner, two of the most powerful galleries in the world, which have organized dozens of exhibitions of his work over the past decades. The artist responded to private and public commissions allowing him to explore the limits of corten steel sculptures, but weighing several tons, his large sculptures were not particularly market-friendly: rarely offered at auction, a few small formats nevertheless found buyers in 2023 accounting for less than ten transactions compared with nearly a hundred prints sold in the same year. Artprice picks out some key figures from Richard SERRA’s auction market.


The total number of Richard Serra auction lots sold (according to Artprice’s database) between 1984 and 2024. Prints account for almost three-quarters of the transactions (72%), while sculptures only account for 5%.


His position in Artprice’s global ranking of artists by their annual auction turnover in 2023. With a total of $2.4 million for his works (no sculptures), Richard Serra was far behind Alberto Giacometti (#25), Alexander Calder (#31) and Louise Bourgeois (#38)


The United States has generated 84% of his auction turnover since 2000. Outside the USA, the demand is highestem in England followed by France.

$4.3 million

Richard Serra’s best auction result to date was hammered by Christie’s in New York on 15 May 2013 for his Corten steel sculpture L.A. Cone (1986).

$2.17 million

The highest auction price for one of his two-dimensional worksCarver (2009, 200 x 200 cm), was hammered in 2017 at Christie’s New York.


Richard Serra: turnover at auction, geographic distribution 2020-March 2024 (copyright

An XXL creation

Born in San Francisco, Richard Serra studied at Yale University School of Arts before moving to Paris for a time. Inspired by the reconstructed studio of Constantin Brancusi, he turned to sculpture in his early years, first exhibiting in Rome (1966) before collaborating with the famous art dealer Leo Castelli as of 1968.

At the heart of the New York art scene of the 1960s, Serra first experimented with sculpture with unconventional materials like latex, neon and lead, which he used in an expressionistic way in his “Splash pieces”. However, it was corten steel that would become his signature, a material he knew well having worked in a steelworks in his youth. His monumental sculptures, composed of immense curved and inclined steel plates, create a sensory interaction with their environment and invite visitors to question their perception, as evidenced by the permanent installation at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, The Matter of Time ( 1994 and 2005) composed of eight curved sculptures, the heaviest of which weighs 276 tonnes.

In parallel with his sculptural practice, Richard Serra also explored engraving from the 1980s. His recent works were exhibited in 2023 at the Lelong & Co gallery in Paris. Using a mixture of oil ink, engraving ink and silica, his creations recall the “outrenoir” experiments conducted by French painter Pierre Soulages. Before the first Covid-19 lockdown, which disrupted his activities, Serra was pursuing work that extended the limits of engraving.