With his sensitive artistic process that is both true to humanity and clearly asserted, internationally renowned artist Jaume Plensa is regarded as one of the great heirs to the Spanish sculptural tradition.
“In sculpture, it isn’t a question of volumes, it is a question of something deep inside us that sculpture cannot describe”, explains the artist. “We always have one foot in normal life and one foot in the most astonishing abstraction. Life itself stems from this contradiction.”
Jaume Plensa was born in Barcelona in 1955 and studied at the Llotja Advanced School of Art and Design as well as at the Sant Jordi Royal Academy of Fine Arts. After his first exhibition in Barcelona in 1980, he lived and worked in Berlin, Brussels, England, France, and the United States. He is currently based in Barcelona. He teaches at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and is also a regular visiting professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition, he has given many classes and conferences in universities, museums, and other institutions around the world.
Plensa’s work is regularly shown in museums and galleries throughout Europe, the US, and Asia. His major exhibitions have included one at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona in 1996, which was subsequently reexhibited at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden. The artist also presented the exhibition Genus and Species at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas in 2010. In 2011, a large collection of Plensa’s sculptures was shown on the grounds and in the museum at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton, UK, which earned the institution that year’s Most Magnificent Attraction award. It remains the most complete and accomplished exhibition of Plensa’s work to date. In Germany, many museums have organised exhibitions of the artist’s work: Love Sounds at the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover in 1999; The Secret Heart, presented in three Augsbourg museums in 2014; and The Inner Sight at the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, the exhibition Human Landscape travelled around several North American museums, from the Cheekwood Estate and Gardens to The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville as well as the Tampa and Toledo Museums of Art. In 2017, the artist was shown at the St. Étienne Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain as well as the Talking Continents exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin. During the summer of 2018, several of Plensa’s sculptures were installed in the royal gardens in Djurgården, Stockholm. Also in 2018, he exhibited a group of sculptures called Invisibles in the centre of the Glass Palace in Madrid, an exhibit which overlapped with a retrospective at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. Plensa’s Les Trois Alchimistes has been a part of the gardens of the Villa Carmignac since its opening in 2018. He was also one of 14 international artists exhibited at the Rockefeller Center for the inauguration of Frieze Sculpture 2019 where he showed his sculpture Behind the Walls, which later travelled to the National Museum of Art in Mexico City. In 2020, Plensa’s piece, Carlota, was displayed in front of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, while Field of Dreams, a collection of four bronze figures originally sculpted in oak, were presented at the Parrish Art Museum.
Sculptural installations in public spaces make up a significant portion of the artist’s work. Large-scale pieces by Plensa can be found in various cities in Spain, France, Japan, England, South Korea, Germany, Canada, and the US. His Crown Fountain, unveiled in Chicago’s Millennium Park in 2004, is without a doubt one of the artist’s most significant and successful works. This piece was followed by numerous commissions for other works in public spaces, among which we can mention some of the most recent: Source (2017) in Montreal, Bangkok Soul (2017) in Bangkok, Love (2017) in Leeuwarden, Pacific Soul (2018) in San Diego, Julia (2018) in Madrid, Voices (2018) in New York, and Dreaming (2017) installed in Toronto in 2020.
A talented printmaker since the start, several exhibitions have featured his work in this medium, including a retrospective of his engravings at Caen’s Musée des Beaux-Arts as well as exhibits at the Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image Imprimée La Louviere in Belgium and the IVAM in Valencia. In 2013, he received the National Graphic Arts Award from the Calcografía Nacional in Madrid. Between 1996 and 2008 he collaborated on several theatre and opera projects, particularly with the La Fura dels Baus theatre troupe, for whom he designed and created sets and costumes.
Jaume Plensa is represented by Galerie Lelong & Co.