The 1982-83 art season was marked by a heated debate about public art sparked by a petition signed by 1300 office workers asking for the removal of "Tilted Arc," a major sculpture by Richard Serra that only weeks before had been installed on the plaza of the Javits Federal Building in downtown New York. Paul Tschinkel and I wanted to cover the controversy for ART/new york and Paul approached Serra, a former classmate at Yale, for an interview. With his art under attack, Serra seized the opportunity to deliver an impassioned critique of prevailing attitudes towards public art as well as a spirited defense of the formalist aesthetic. The stark beauty and intimidating power of Serra's monumental work was clearly on display in footage of similar Serra sculptures at the Leo Castelli Gallery in Soho, and in what turned out to be rare footage of "Tilted Arc" just months before it was removed.
Most ART/new york tapes from this period were organized around specific themes. The Serra sequence was part of a tape on "Public Sculpture" that also included segments on Louise Nevelson's public works, and a vertiginous platform sculpture by Owen Morrell suspended atop the McGraw Hill Building. Other tapes covered video art, performance art, photography, Pop Art, New Expressionism, and Pattern and Decoration. All in all, between 1981 and 1985 Paul and I completed 17 programs, and I interviewed close to 75 artists.
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 9 (1981)
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 17 (1983)
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 16 (1983)
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 61 (1983)
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 11 (1982)
Excerpt from ART/new york No. 15 (1983)
Videos may be purchased at artnewyork.org
All photographs courtesy of Paul Tschinkel and ART/new york