The Toledo Museum of Art has acquired a large-scale work by famed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa for its sculpture garden.
Paula, which is on display adjacent to the Museum’s Monroe Street terrace, is a cast iron head created in 2014 that measures 276 11/16 inches high, 122 inches wide and 40 inches deep. It came to Toledo in June as part of the artist’s one-man exhibition Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape. Organized by the Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee, in partnership with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the exhibition, which closed Nov. 6, contained seven large outdoor sculptures as well as indoor installations and works on paper.
Brian Kennedy, CEO, president and director of the Toledo Museum of Art, said Plensa’s work really resonates with visitors.
“Given the immediate popularity of Jaume’s sculpture Spiegel when it was added to our collection in 2012, we were not surprised by how many Museum members and visitors loved Paula and asked us whether the sculpture could stay in Toledo. We agreed and decided it should stay in the Georgia and David K. Welles Sculpture Garden.”
The artist’s popularity crosses international boundaries and many of his works are in public spaces in cities in Spain, France, Japan, England, South Korea, Germany, Canada, the United States and elsewhere. The Crown Fountain, unveiled in Chicago’s Millennium Park in 2004, is one of his largest projects and considered to be one of his most brilliant. TMA’s new sculpture was shown in Millennium Park in a 2014 Chicago exhibition commemorating the 10th anniversary of The Crown Fountain.
“It has been wonderful to collaborate with the Toledo Museum of Art on my exhibition, and to know that Paula was so welcomed in the community. I think the Toledo Museum is the perfect home for her, a girl from Barcelona now at home in Toledo, a metaphor for our global world, where beauty and human beings are the same all over,” Plensa said.
The Museum purchased Paula from the artist through Galerie Lelong using unrestricted funds from the Museum’s Libbey Endowment and generous contributions given in memory of Frank Snug by his family, and given by Margy and Scott Trumbull, and by Thomas and Betsy Brady.
Although a portrait of a specific young girl, Paula has been described as an icon of the possibility of silence, beauty and thought. The sculpture is part of the artist’s investigation of the portrait.
Born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1955, Plensa creates large figurative sculptures that produce enchanting and mystifying visions of the human form as landscape. His Spiegel, which also is on view in the Welles Sculpture Garden, shows the silhouettes of two large crouching figures made of a latticework of letters.
The artist has received many prestigious awards for his work, including the Médaille de Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres presented by the French Ministry of Culture in 1993; the Government of Catalonia’s National Prize for Fine Art in 1997; an honorary doctorate in 2005 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and more recently, Spain’s National Prize for Fine Art in 2012 and the prestigious Velázquez Prize for the Arts in 2013.