Home » Sculpture in Nature: Richard Serra in King City, Ontario

Sculpture in Nature: Richard Serra in King City, Ontario

Last weekend, VoCA went out to King City, just north of Toronto, to look for Shift, Richard Serra’s 1970-72 concrete sculpture that lies almost buried in a field.

Richard Serra’s Shift, 1970-72. Image: Scott Barker

After mapping it on Google Earth, and figuring out more or less what the closest road was, we parked our car, hopped the fence and headed confidently toward a non-descript ‘mound’ in the distance.

After negotiating what felt like miles of soy fields (we skirted the edges, not wanting to disrupt the crop) and narrowly avoiding a cleverly disguised marsh, we found it.

Richard Serra, Tilted Spheres at Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1, Toronto.
Image: wikimedia.org

3 arcs of concrete, set up opposite another three. It was a beautiful day, and the concrete had been left so that it was almost covered in tall grasses. Nonetheless, there was something magical about knowing that we were all alone with a great earthwork.

Of Shift, Serra has written: “The intent of the work is an awareness of physicality in time, space, and motion…The work establishes a measure: one’s relation to it and to the land.

Richard Serra’s Shift, 1970-72. Image: Scott Barker

Last year, Serra told the Star’s Peter Goddard – HERE – that his subsequent work has direct links back to Shift, which was commissioned by collector Roger Davidson.

There’s some great reading on the sculpture HERE that we found thanks to Tyler Green over at MAN. Read his notes on Shift HERE.

17 Responses to “Sculpture in Nature: Richard Serra in King City, Ontario”

  1. EC says:

    Great pictures….what is it like in the Wintertime?

  2. Susan Watterson says:

    Your readers might be interested to check out the AGO catalogue – Structures for Behaviour – published in 1978 for images of Shift (p.5 and pp 14 – 15) in earlier times. Locating the site (without aid of GPS) and being present when the latter photos were taken was a most exhilarating and memorable afternoon for me! I walked the whole length, animal droppings, dead twigs and little snakes notwithstanding. The silence was exquisite! Go visit it. A neglected artwork in Canada!

  3. Simon says:

    I tried albeit not very thoroughly to find that piece. My wife’s parents live in Aurora so we pass King City all the time. (when we lived in Canada) Next time home I am finding it dammit!

  4. Andrea says:

    It may be easier to find in the winter…when you can walk directly across the fields.

  5. Leah Sandals says:

    Good job finding this piece, Andrea! Seems like a challenge to locate it. The photos are cool too.

  6. Bill says:

    It is so great that you are unearthing (ooo, kind of a bad pun, sorry) all of these art treasures that are so close to home! I had no idea this even existed!

  7. mmm says:

    Please, Art God, make Richard Serra and his tedious sculptures go away forever. Amen

  8. Henrik Borjesson says:

    Thank you so much for posting some recent pictures of this incredible piece!

    I’m an architect from Sweden and recently returned from an extensive funded research pilgrimage through the US south west hunting down land art. My funding wasn’t sufficient to allow my travels to extend into Canada, but I will be travelling to Toronto for the wedding of a friend in a week which may just provide me the opportunity to finally experience Shift in person.

    Do you, or anyone reading this page, have directions to the artwork from Toronto? Is it at all possible to arrive there by public transport? Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated and can be sent to me at lehonk@hotmail.com!

    Best wishes,

  9. Carol says:


    A recent article in the local paper on Shift.

  10. AC says:

    Thanks Carol. This is of particular interest: “One of the things that it does do is when you walk it measures your distance in relation to the landscape so it allows you to understand the shift in elevation as you’re walking because there’s no set horizon there,” Mr. Serra said.

  11. Carol says:

    I live about 10 kms away, so I’m going to make a point in finding it. Sounds like the perfect thing to do on a bright winter day.

    Here is another recent blogspot on the piece by a local politician:


  12. darin says:

    If i were the farmer and had to plow around that thing, I’d be seriously pissed off.

  13. josh says:

    the sculpture is at king vaughan road and dufferin
    google map it and you can see the sculpture.
    you have to cross 1.5 farm area things.

    it’s neat.

  14. bart says:

    and whose property is everyone trespassing on?

  15. Andrea says:

    Apparently the developer wants to preserve the sculpture. But the context (the landscape) is important to the piece. It’s about the surrounding landscape. So I’m not sure that just saving the sculpture while developing the surrounding land would be the right thing to do…and I do feel the sculpture should be publicly accessible.

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