Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour: Time in the Space Between

Stretching for almost 800 feet and standing just under 20 feet high, Te Tuhirangi Contour is Richard Serra’s largest sculpture to date. Like most of Serra’s works situated in outdoor, natural landscapes, Te Tuhirangi Contour has received scant critical attention since its completion in 2001. In light of this fact, the discussion of the landscape pieces in the catalogue of the Museum of Modern Art’s recent exhibition “Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years” may come as a revelation. An examination of Serra’s sculptural interventions in the landscape is long overdue, but their inclusion in this context perhaps raises more questions than answers. The catalogue leaves one yearning for more visual and textual explication and wondering why these works have not been discussed previously. There are, of course, very pragmatic reasons why works like Te Tuhirangi Contour are left out of both exhibitions and critical discussions of Serra’s work. Artistic interventions in the land have always posed problems of accessibility, and Serra’s landscape pieces are no exception. They are dispersed around the world, in locations as diverse as California, Iceland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. They are often made even more remote because they are privately commissioned and situated on private property, inaccessible to the greater public.