This is “We” by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, which was installed seven years ago this month in front of the Galerie Rudolfinum Gallery in Prague, looking out over the Charles River. It was fun to observe, study and photograph the piece in the dark. Trying to read it, not so much.
It’s made up of characters from a variety languages to celebrate the linguistic diversity that exists in the global community, and was on display in conjunction with the Czech Republic’s six-month stint at the helm of the Presidency of the EU in Winter 2009.
Born in Barcelona in 1955, Plensa’s star as one of the world’s foremost sculptors working in the public space has risen dramatically over the past quarter century, with his works now found in dozens of major cities including Chicago, London, Nice, Tokyo, Seoul and Toronto. From his bio on CityofChicago.com:
Over the past 25 years, the artist has produced a rich body of work in the studio and the public realm. By combining conventional sculptural materials (glass, steel, bronze, aluminum) with more unconventional media (water, light, sound, video), and frequently incorporating text, Plensa creates hybrid works of intricate energy and psychology. From his delicately textured, intimate works on paper—like his 2005-06 series of ethnographic portraits that resemble worn, 19th century photographs—to monumental outdoor sculptures like Nomade (2007) and a range of cityscape-altering public projects like the Crown Fountain in Chicago (2000-05), Plensa’s work takes many forms.
And he insists that art, particularly public art, should be caressed. From an interview in the Italian art, design and culture journal, Digicult:
Barbara Sansone: Moreover, the charm of art in public spaces is often so charming not only when contemplated but also because it has to be used somehow.
Jaume Plensa: Yes, it leaves you the freedom to use it as you like. In my opinion art in public spaces should introduce something that is not in the city already: personal freedom.
Last year I was invited to hold a lecture in Des Moines. There, one of my sculptures was bought by a collector who gifted it to the city. I spoke in a beautiful theater, full of people, and at the end asked if there were any questions. One lady remarked that throughout my speech I asked people to touch my work, to live it and feel if it was hot or cold, rough or smooth, while, rather close to my sculpture there was a sign saying “Please do not touch”.
I replied that the administration had made a little mistake and that it had forgotten to complete the sign. The text should have said “Do not touch it: caress it”. You caress your wife, you don’t touch her. And this is what people should do with art: it needs to be caressed.
Today’s Pic du Jour, snapped in Prague on 25 February 2009, is the site’s 742nd straight. (I bet Plensa hasn’t created that many sculptures. 🙂 ) And fitting for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, “Alphabets“.