Sunday, November 18, 2012

Your move. No, after you, I insist.

"Mirror" by Jaume Plensa, 2011 at Rice University, Central Quad.  Comprised of the letters from eight alphabets, Chinese, Latin, Russian, Arabic, Greek, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew.  Gift of Bill and Stephanie Sick.  Photo taken February 2012.

Jaume Plensa is a Catalonian artist, born 1955, and celebrated for his outdoor, public art.  Of this piece, he says, "I fell in love with the trees on this campus.  My piece is in a certain way an homage to the trees--a conversation between all the branches. . . . You go in and suddenly the world is on the other side.  You look through this form of expression, that is calligraphy.  I suppose it is a bit of a romantic attitude.  In a sense, you see the world through art, through emotion, through the expression of an idea."

Now, that sentiment is very lovely.  The statues, too, are lovely, glowing differently with different hours' light.  These invite one in, literally.  All that, true.  Still, I don't believe that Jaume Plensa was inspired by the oaks on campus for this piece.  Why?  Because alphabet lattice is one of Plensa's signature styles, along with monumental heads cast in resin with marble dust.  It's okay that various of his pieces look similar--whether at MIT or New Orleans or Vancouver or Prague or Toledo (called "Spiegel" --that's "Mirror" in German).  But c'mon, it's pretty clear his inspiration struck a few years back.  We are a happy beneficiary, but not the muse of, that eureka moment.

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