Jaume Plensa: Echo
Towering forty-feet above the central Oval Lawn, Jaume Plensa’s Echo is a monumental sculpture that depicts the head of a nine-year-old girl from the artist’s Barcelona neighborhood. The work, marking Plensa’s New York City public space debut, is made of resin, steel and coated in white marble dust. Echo, a mountain nymph in Greek mythology, was cursed by the goddess Hera. As a result, she was unable to speak, except for the last words uttered by another person.
The calm of Plensa’s Echo offers a quiet counterpoint to the voices of the thousands of daily visitors to Madison Square Park. A child with her eyes closed and her mouth poised, the looming sculpture conveys peaceful, dream-like introspection with the surreal air of disquietude. Drawing on Surrealism’s links to his work, the artist has said that “the beauty of art is that your dreams must be shared with others, but first you must dream.” Plensa is closely identified today with his practice of creating outsized portrait heads of those in his community in Barcelona. He realizes their likenesses and then, with computer technology and sophisticated fabrication techniques, transforms each individual as a collective figure of the human condition.