Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi

Richard Serra

San Francisco, California, USA, 1938 - Orient, New York, USA, 2024
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Corten steel
  • Technique: 
  • Descriptive technique: 
    A work made up of four solid blocks of weathering steel, two square and two rectangular
  • Dimensions: 
    Part 01: 148,5 x 500 x 24 cm / Part 02: 148,5 x 148,5 x 24 cm / Part 03: 148,5 x 500 x 24 cm / Part 04: 148,5 x 148,5 x 24 cm
  • Category: 
    Sculpture, Installation
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • On display in:
    Room 102

Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi was specifically created for the Museo Reina Sofía as part of the exhibition Referencias. Un encuentro artístico en el tiempo, which opened the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 1986. The sculpture consists of four solid blocks of CORTEN steel; four aligned slabs with an elevation of 148.5 cm (the author referred to “equal elevations”), corresponding to the height of the windowsills of the building that houses them. Two of the four blocks are square, and the other two are rectangles of the same depth. Richard Serra positioned them in an alternating arrangement, leaving an empty central space between them similar in size to that filled by the blocks, allowing the viewer to perceive the sculpture as a work of physical experience of space and form. The title is unique among the artist’s body of work, Serra having clearly stated that his works do not refer to the memory of any person, place or event; yet while Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi evokes a spatial experience of the work, it also refers to the temporal parallel between two historical events, on the premise that they are equal: the civilian bombing in Guernica by the Condor Legion on April 26th 1937 and an event that took place at the same time as the sculpture was being made, the American Air Force’s attack on the Libyan city of Bengasi on April 15th, 1986. The attack, which caused civilian casualties, was a reprisal for a bomb attack on a Berlin discotheque attributed to Libyan agents, in which one woman and two American soldiers were killed. Weaving these two references together, Serra makes an allusion to the debate around the role of history: whether it begins and ends with the individual corporeal experience, or whether its retelling can function as a construction of the world.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio