The Trial of Tilted Arc

An excerpt from The Trial Of Tilted Arc (1986), a thought-provoking documentary chronicling the climactic General Services Administration hearing that decided the fate of Richard Serra's public sculpture, Tilted Arc. Commissioned and installed by the U.S. government in 1981, the sculpture became the center of controversy four years later when a public hearing was held to consider its removal from Federal Plaza in New York City. The trial raised several issues, including the validity of a contract between an artist and the government, the freedom of artistic expression, and the role of the public in designing the visual environment. During the course of the hearing, Serra's site-specific work is described in terms ranging from "masterpiece" to "mouse trap."