Richard Serra Shift

Richard Serra's Shift may be donated to the AGO

The fate of Richard Serra's "Shift," a massive concrete sculpture located in a field near King City, may finally be settled once and for all. The Globe and Mail reports that Hickory Hills Investments, the developer upon whose land the piece resides, has entered into talks with the AGO regarding the assumption of ownership of the sculpture and the land that surrounds it.

Although the details are quite sketchy - the discussions between the developer and gallery are reported to have gotten underway only a few days ago - this has the potential to be great news for fans of Serra and public art in general.

One of the artist's early site-specific works, Shift was commissioned by Toronto art collector, Roger Davidson, in the early 1970s. When Davidson's sold his land in 1980, however, Shift's future was quickly drawn into question. Although King City council made a number attempts to have the land upon which the sculpture sits designated as a heritage property, it wasn't until November 30 last year that a motion was passed to grant the site such a status. The following January, Great Gulf, the parent company of Hickory Hills, revealed that they intended to appeal the decision.

And, really, even if the property retained its heritage status, many still worried that Hickory Hills would refuse to maintain the artwork or make it accessible to the public. And that's why this apparent change of heart is so exciting.

The nature of a possible deal between the AGO and Hickory Hills has yet to be confirmed by either party, but the Globe article has King mayor, Margaret Black, claiming the developer would donate the property in exchange for reduced income tax.

This could all take some time (as in years), but having Shift under the ownership of the AGO would almost certainly ensure that the sculpture is more widely visited and appreciated in the future. Not only that, with the land surrounding the sculpture as part of the donation, Serra's original intentions for the installation - which are completely tied to the topography - would likely be preserved for the foreseeable future.

More to come as its known.


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