You instantly feel lifted by a sense of wonder when you first see an outdoor sculpture by Jaume Plensa, not only by the enormous scale of many of his pieces but by the way the scale, subject and harmony combine to evoke a disarming spirituality. A suggestion of playfulness enters in, too, and it is not unusual to suddenly realize you have a smile on your face without having noticed when it arrived.
For those lucky enough to live near Nashville, Tennessee, smiles will be plentiful this summer at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, where Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape is on view through Nov. 1, the largest-to-date exhibition of Plensa’s work in the United States, Cheekwood says.
Plensa, who turns 60 this year, lives and works in Barcelona but his works and fame have been spreading around the world in recent years. Two of his best-known works in the United States are permanent public projects: Echo, a 44-foot-high stylized sculpture of a young girl’s head; and Crown Fountain in Chicago, one of his largest works to date. The New York Times tells a wonderful story about the development of Echo (with video), which provides insight on the genius of Plensa and how he approaches projects. Echo was erected first in Madison Square Park in New York City in 2011 and then moved to its permanent home in the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.
Nashville’s Cheekwood is a museum and botanical garden sitting on 55 acres. Built by the founding family of Maxwell House coffee, it now functions as a historic landmark and cultural institution with hundreds of corporate and private donors and thousands of member individuals and families.
For those not able to get to Nashville this summer, we offer here a glimpse of the world of Jaume Plensa being presented there.