Vestigial Block: From Private Origins to Public Placement

The first time Jonathan Prince saw Richard Serra's Berlin Block (for Charlie Chaplin) 1978, he was astounded by its paradoxical qualities: the sculpture was simple in form but its massive scale, the presence it had and the attention it demanded, had a profound impact on Prince. It was completely transporting. 

Prince recalls feeling as though he had discovered not a modern sculptural object, but an artifact unearthed from the distant past. For Prince, the sculpture conveyed a visceral sense of mystery and time. That feeling of having been in the presence of something ancient and unknown was the inspiration for Prince's sculpture entitled Vestigial Block, and it is imbued with these complicated projections.  It is as though the CorTen steel from which it is made has worn away over time, exposing an inner surface filled with some other form of matter, a mysterious history yet to be discovered. 

Vestigial Block, a monumental work which came from private origins, has found its final home in a prominent, public collection. 


Richard Serra 
Berlin Block (For Charlie Chaplin)
1978

Vestigial Block 
CorTen and Stainless Steel
6.25 x 6 x 6 feet 
2011
Exhibition view, IBM Atrium, New York City 

Vestigial Block in the permanent collection of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU

Vestigial Block was acquired by Edward J. Minksoff in 2013 and donated to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU where it now sits in their permanent collection. In an article published that year, Robert Bao wrote, "'Sometimes the private sector can contribute significantly to institutional decisions, especially complicated ones,' says Minskoff, who, along with his wife Julie, donated $3 million to the MSU project along with a major Jonathan Prince sculpture and Jasper Johns print."  The full article can be read here