More On Richard Serra’s First Show

The other day while gooftweeting some highlights of the real estate slideshow for Villa Aurora – still available, now 20% off! – I made a joke, entirely for an audience of one, about Richard Serra’s first show, which took place in Rome in 1966, while he was traveling on a Fulbright with his then-wife and fellow Yale sculpture MFA Nancy Graves. Titled, “Animal Habitats: Live and Stuffed,” the show delivered exactly what it promised: live and taxidermy animals inside various crates, cages, and other “habitats.”

photo of Richard Serra and the pig in Live Pig Cage I, 1966, from the Time Magazine article on his show at Galleria La Salita in Rome

Though it got covered in Time magazine, and Serra would later neg the show while claiming credit for inadvertently launching Arte Povera, in the ten years since I first/last blogged about it, I’ve never seen any other mention of the show, or discussion of the work. And none of it survived, I wrote back then, even in reproduction.

But it turns out I was wrong. A picture of photocopy of a picture of a work arrived from Rome. In the 1980s a group of Serra works from “Animal Habitats” were put up for auction in Italy by Tomaso Gian Liverani, the owner of Galleria La Salita, where Serra showed. It’s not clear what they were or where they went. But in 1987, Emanuela Oddi Baglioni, another Roman dealer, was offering a group for sale. Was it the same group, or part of it? Where there others? Oddi Baglioni’s gallery was across the via Gregoriana from la Salita, but it only moved there in 1967. Did she buy them at auction from her neighbor? Or did they not sell? Are there more? They survived 20 years, though! What happened after that? Did someone buy them?

Anyway, the work, which may have been in Liverani’s group, Oddi Baglioni’s group, both, or neither, is above. The scale of the piece is not clear, but there is a long-beaked bird [taxidermied, I’d hope] sticking out of an urn?, with a thick sheaf of weeds? underneath it, on a [readymade?] metal stand? a plant stand? And the title of the piece is HAIR ON OR AFTER GASM ONE, to Barney Newman.

OK. Thank you? I do not know what to do with this information. Which, now I think I know how Barney Newman felt?