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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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Serra sculpture dedicated, Nov. 10

Internationally renowned artist Richard Serra joined Princeton University officials at a dedication ceremony on campus today for his dramatic new sculpture, "The Hedgehog and the Fox."

The sculpture, three vast ribbons of rust-colored steel, was donated by Peter Joseph, a member of the class of 1972 who died in 1998. Before he died, Joseph, a New York art enthusiast, had commissioned the $1 million sculpture for the university in honor of his children, Danielle and Nicholas.

Serra is considered one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, and perhaps the most significant American sculptor to emerge since the 1950s. His work, standing 94 feet long and 15 feet high, was erected between Peyton and Fine halls on the Princeton campus and is a major contribution to the university's well-known collection of modern outdoor art.

Serra has "extended the space of sculpture more creatively, and explored the experience of sculpture more critically, than any other artist in the post-war period," said Hal Foster, a Princeton professor of modern art.

Like other Serra works, "The Hedgehog and the Fox" is understood not merely by viewing, but by walking through it -- encountering different glimpses of sky and light and experiencing new spatial sensations. His works have a reputation for demanding interaction and reflection.

The sculpture creates an experience "that renders us more sensitive not only to facts of material, principles of structure, and terms of building, but to our own human sensorium as it engages its surroundings," Foster wrote.

The name of the sculpture, "The Hedgehog and the Fox," refers to an essay by Isaiah Berlin, who quotes from the Greek poet Archilochus: "The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one great thing." Serra explained, "It points to how scholars either become free thinkers and invent or become subjugated to the dictates of history. This is the classical problem posed to every student."

Serra does not grind, polish or paint the metal used in his sculptures, but allows them to rust and bear the scrapes and scratches that occur during creation. His work is displayed in leading galleries and museums across Europe and the United States.

Joseph, the former chairman and chief executive officer of the merchant banking firm Rosecliff, Inc., graduated from Yale Law School after attending Princeton. Throughout his life, he was a great patron of the arts, serving as chairman of the governing board of the American Ballet Theater and member of the board of the directors of the Second State Theater in New York. He was a leading collector of studio art furniture and established the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York to showcase that art form.

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601

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