Engulfing Experience: Fox or Hedgehog?

serra sfHave you forgotten about, or have your ever even seen, the giant sculpture jewel of Princeton’s campus, the Richard Serra sculpture? Two New York Times articles in the past two days made me want to go back and ‘walk’ the tunnel again. On May 12 Ken Johnson dubbed  Serra the “greatest living sculptor of Minimalist abstraction” and suggested that to view Serra’s work currently at the Gagosian Gallery was “an engulfing experience…Moving through the construction, you become acutely attuned to sight, touch and sound and to your own being in time and space. Consciousness itself becomes an object of consciousness.”  Today’s article on San Francisco’s MoMA features a Jason Henry photo (above) of the Serra sculpture at the museum’s entrance.

hedgehog fox

Serra’s 2010 sculpture, behind the Lewis Library (my photo above), is known as “The Fox and the Hedgehog.” As described on the campus web page, Industrial yet sensual, this massive sculpture invites visitors to walk through its steel curves in order to experience art, space, and environment in a physical way. The title, taken from an Isaiah Berlin essay on Tolstoy, quotes the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one great thing.” Serra extends this proposition as a question to students—will you be a fox or a hedgehog?

I am not a minimalist. Anyone who has been in my house knows that. But I like to feast my eyes on uncluttered space and put my body between the comforting metal walls of the Serra sculpture. If you haven’t tried it — do, and you can decide if you want to be the Fox or the Hedgehog. For me, that decision has already been made.

 

 

 

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