'Shift' by Richard Serra - Atlas Obscura
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'Shift' by Richard Serra

King City, Ontario

A unique piece by one of the most famous sculptors of the 20th century is rotting away in a small Ontario town. 

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Richard Serra is one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. His work can be found in the most important galleries around the world in cities such as London, Paris, and New York. One location that doesn’t quite fit here: King City, Ontario. However, this small town is inextricably connected to Serra’s art: The town even has a street named after him.

King City is the home of a potato farm that Serra visited in 1970. A friend of his owned the land and paid him to complete a sculpture on the property. The completed sculpture, entitled Shift, is one of only two works that Serra ever created in concrete.

In the over 50 years since Serra created Shift, it has been forgotten and then subsequently rediscovered. Today the work is protected by the Ontario Heritage Act. Nonetheless, the work has been reclaimed by nature. The concrete is beginning to show cracks and tall grasses obscure the work. In the spring or summer, the sculpture is surrounded by flowers and wild raspberries. 

Through a fluke of fate, King City is home to one of the rarest works from one of the 20th and 21st century’s most important artists.

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August 23, 2023

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