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The Shock of the Known: Jaume Plensa
by Keith Patrick

When Descartes deduced cogito ergo sum or when Einstein concluded that E=MC2, they formulated ideas of such incisive simplicity that we intuitively accept them as right. No matter that few of us are qualified to follow their precise reasoning, it is enough that such complex deductions have been so succinctly distilled and have thus entered our everyday vocabulary.

It is a lesson worth keeping in mind when approaching the work of Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa. Before entering into any discussion of the work itself, we have to consider that the physical manifestation—what I will inadequately call “the sculpture”—is subservient to the idea, and that the idea is invariably a synthesis of elements drawn from Plensa’s complex and pluralistic perspective on the world. It is an idea honed to such a degree of essence that, like those of Descartes and Einstein, it carries the deceptive simplicity that we might be tempted to call “the truth.”


Nomade, 2007.
Painted stainless steel, 800 x 550 x 530 cm.

Installed in Miami Beach, Florida.

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