Jaume Plensa: Sculptor of Beauty

Art is supposed to express, rebuke, symbolize, inform, provoke, and so on. Few (if any) say that art is to just exist, and Jaume Plensa is one of them. As a sculptor, he says that he wants his work to exist, “to create beauty without any component of business in it.”

In this 2015 interview, Plensa is asked about public art. He replies that he is not sure what is meant by ‘public’ art, since he believes all art is public. He seems to prefer the expression art in public spaces. In these spaces, the art is left to fend for itself, where in the confines of a museum there are many people and systems in place to ensure that the art is safe and beholders keep their distance. With sculpture in public spaces, the work asserts itself into the environment of the beholder, which sometimes makes it difficult for it to be recognized as art.

Jaume Plensa, Humming, 2011 at deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA. Photograph by Hannah Goff Spicher

When asked about beauty, one of his main concerns in artmaking, Plensa proclaims he can “think of no more important purpose than to create beauty.” He disparages the misinterpretation of words like beauty, morals, poetry, and ethics. To overcome these misinterpretations, Plensa thinks we need to return to their original meanings.

Beauty, or the search for beauty, is an intrinsic part of the human condition. It’s also true that sometimes we are more interested in the notion of the grotesque or the ugly, but that’s alright because, by contrast, we’re also talking about beauty.

Interview with Jauma Plensa. By Montse Serra. 2015.

Another of his major concerns is that the art connects with the community in which it is displayed. Implied in his desire to connect with the community is that his work does not become an eyesore. And this seems to help motivate his concern for beauty.

Art creates the link that humanises the space, because it gives scale to the human being. Art in a public space once again has a leading role to play, because of the need to give people the tools to feel like people again, because architecture has lost its essential purpose of embracing people. We should go back to a more human form of architecture.

Interview with Jauma Plensa. By Montse Serra. 2015.

Read the whole interview by Monte Serra in Barcelona Metropolis.

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