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To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted

"To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted" by Richard Serra, embedded in the street outside the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Art Museum

Visitors to Forest Park now can interact with a sculpture by artist Richard Serra without even getting out of the car. 

Serra's "To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted” — which looks like a circle with a 26-foot diameter — has been embedded in the asphalt of Fine Arts Drive, between the St. Louis Art Museum's main entrance and the "Apotheosis of St. Louis" sculpture atop Art Hill. 

The street section, closed since October for the installation, is open again. Workers also made changes to improve storm-water drainage. 

The Serra sculpture is flush with the pavement and doesn't obstruct motorists or pedestrians. The artist meant for the piece to be driven and walked over, rather than simply observed, the museum said in an announcement.

Originally installed at an intersection in the Bronx from 1970 to 1972, the artwork was acquired by local collectors Jan and Ronald Greenberg, who had it at their home from 1973 through 1978. The Greenbergs then lent it to Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County until giving it to the St. Louis Art Museum in 1984.

The art museum had it installed in the parking lot at the south entrance of the museum. It was removed and placed in storage in 2008 when construction began on the East Building.

Brent Benjamin, the museum's director, told the Post-Dispatch in 2017 that Serra is “the most important living sculptor in America” and noted that "To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram" is “his first major outdoor sculpture.”

The museum consulted Serra, and “this is the site he would prefer,” Benjamin said.

Another sculpture by Serra — eight giant steel slabs titled "Twain" (1981) — fills a city block on the Gateway Mall downtown. And "Joe" (1999), a piece commissioned in memory of Joseph Pulitzer Jr., sits in the courtyard at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

A gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer funded the Fine Arts Drive installation project.