MoMA, To collect: “Drawing is a verb,” the artist Richard Serra once said. An important new acquisition for MoMA’s Department of Drawings, Serra’s Verb List (1967–68) serves as a kind of manifesto for this pronouncement. In pencil on two sheets of paper, the artist lists the infinitives of 84 verbs—to roll, to crease, to fold, to store, etc.—and 24 possible contexts—of gravity, of entropy, of nature, etc.—in four columns of script. Serra described the list as a series of “actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process,” and employed it as a kind of guide for his subsequent practice in multiple mediums.
Serra has talked at length, for example, about the central place this language-based drawing occupied in the development of his early sculpture. “When I first started, what was very, very important to me was dealing with the nature of process,” he said. “So what I had done is I’d written a verb list: to roll, to fold, to cut, to dangle, to twist…and I really just worked out pieces in relation to the verb list physically in a space.” A sort of linguistic laying out of possible artistic options, this work on paper functioned for the artist “as a way of applying various activities to unspecified materials.”
to blot out
to build castles in Spain