Inverted House of Cards
1969 Steel (124.5 x 224.8 x 224.8 cm) overall
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Eli and Edythe L. Broad
Although he can be considered a postminimalist, Richard Serra shares many of the concerns of the earlier generation of minimalists. His Inverted House of Cards is a simple geometric form that stands directly on the floor, inhabiting the viewer's space. It is constructed from four large and enormously heavy steel plates balanced against one another. Gravity is all that secures them; they touch at the center, where they intersect only briefly, forming a small cubic opening. The fear that the plates could shift undercuts any feeling of solidity and permanence inherent in the work's weight and geometric structure. Nevertheless, its scale—shorter but considerably wider and heavier than an adult—permits a degree of ambivalence: any larger and it would lack subtlety, any smaller and there would be no threat. Inverted House of Cards is simultaneously compelling and intimidating.