Arts in Transit
Chesterfield Arts
St. Louis
Grand Center
U. City



Artist: Richard Serra, American, b. 1939
Title: Twain, 1981
Media: Cor-ten steel
Dimensions: 12' h., 83' w., 120' d.
Owner: City of St. Louis

About the Work
On a gently sloping grassy tract, seven enormous sheets of weathered Cor-ten steel frame, divide, and define a space bounded by towering buildings. Composed, commanding, and monumental, the two-inch-thick slabs are positioned with regular intervals between each, the spaces forming portals, or doorways, through which we are able to see an endless array of vistas from slim slices of urban life to towering expanses. It’s as if, momentarily, the sculpture becomes a camera with an
adjustable lens.

Minimalist sculptor Richard Serra is a master at manipulating tons of steel. Early experience working in steel mills on the West coast influenced his choice of materials—steel and lead. Often a process of overcoming the seemingly impossible, the physical aspects of sculpture—the materials and processes, weight, mass, scale, and site—have always dominated his work. The fabrication of these enormous sheets was made possible when Serra was able to track down one of only two remaining steel-rolling machines that had been originally used to make World War II battleships.
This site-specific sculpture focuses our attention on the space, the buildings, and the architectural details that surround it as much as on the piece itself. Installed in 1982,
Twain, originally titled Quadrilateral, invites the spectator to move through and around it, and in, out, and between the slabs creating pathways and a unique, personal map. Six slabs are 40 feet long and one is 50 feet in length.

The son of a California shipyard worker, Serra received undergraduate degrees in English literature and Fine Arts before completing a M.F.A. at Yale University. A Yale Travel Grant enabled him to study in France and then a Fullbright Fellowship permitted a second year abroad in Florence, Italy. A sculptor of international reputation, Serra’s subsequent work, as with Twain, continues to be innovative and challenging.