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Jaume Plensa, Born 1955, Barcelona, Spain

Sanna, 2015

The sculptures of Barcelona-born Jaume Plensa populate the outdoor spaces of many cities around the globe: Chicago, Dubai, London, Tokyo, Toronto, and Bordeaux. These figures can be seen on public squares, near handsome works of architecture, or even – as in Nice – perched atop a row of poles that line the city's central boulevard.

Plensa is also known for his giant heads, of which "Sanna" is one. It is the elongated head and neck of a young woman, her eyes closed in meditation. The head is stretched to such a degree that it looks as though it could almost be a hologram. The alabaster-coloured fiberglass material makes "Sanna" look, from afar, like marble. The sculpture is designed with the viewer on the ground in mind, so the perspective of the work seems to change as we approach it.

"Sanna" is part of a series of monumental female heads by Plensa that carry the names of different young girls and are situated in a variety of locations around the globe.

"Tradition is feminine, everything that marks our life is feminine," explains the artist. "That's why I decided to make portraits of girls between eight and fourteen years old. It's a moment when beauty changes very quickly, which means that whenever I make a portrait, you could say that only a short while afterwards my model no longer exists."

Each giant head is based on the photograph of a real person whom the artist has encountered. "The idea of combining photography, which has the capacity to capture the ephemeral, and sculpture, which dialogues with eternal things – that fusion of opposites becomes possible," he notes.

Plensa studied art in Barcelona and had his first exhibition in his hometown in 1980. He has since had solo shows in many prominent international locations, including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the U.K., the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. He lives and works in Barcelona.


Jaume Plensa discussing his work