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Meijer Gardens Opens Largest Exhibition by Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa. Nomade, 2007. Painted stainless steel, 314 x 217 x 209 inches. Collection of Mary and John Pappajohn, Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by William J. Hebert.

GRAND RAPIDS.- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, the most significant sculpture and botanic experience in the Midwest and an emerging cultural destination on the national scene, welcomes Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa, for his largest exhibition in the United States to date.

Best known in America as the creator of Chicago’s iconic Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, Plensa is one of the most innovative and profound public artists on the contemporary art scene. This exclusive presentation centers on Plensa’s distinct interpretation of the human form and use of text, through eight sculpture installations and 18 drawings, many of which never before seen in the United States. This examination of Plensa’s work is open through January 4, 2009.

“The focal point of Plensa’s work is the universality of humankind through the context of public sculpture and installation, which can be seen in dozens of permanent works around the world,” said Joseph Becherer, Director of Exhibitions and Curator of the Sculpture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. “His work is significant for Meijer Gardens because it directly addresses the connection between art and life, and how each fit within the natural world.”

“Guests are undeniably drawn to Plensa’s sculpture. He purposefully selects materials and sites in graceful harmony that entices participation and encourages contemplation—a flawless match to our gardens.”

Plensa integrates a variety of materials into his work such as metal and glass; air and water; light and darkness; audio and video technology and written text to take advantage of the viewer’s entire sensory experience. This effect often immerses viewers, making his pieces more interactive and extending their importance.

“My work has tried to reconcile opposites. It is perhaps inside that friction of dualities where I can raise the big questions in a more suitable way and, in their own impossibility, find the path of emotion,” said Plensa.

The opening of Jaume Plensa at Meijer Gardens coincides with the 21st bi-annual International Sculpture Conference, October 2-4, 2008 in Grand Rapids. The conference will focus on sculpture in public places, including a keynote presentation from Plensa on Thursday, October 2nd. The three-day event will bring together artists, arts administrators, curators, patrons, museum directors, educators and students for dialogue and networking events focused on issues related to public art.

Born in Spain, Plensa’s cutting-edge work reflects his Catalan origins. With their contextually diverse, layered and dualistic nature, Plensa's works demand participation to enhance and extend their significance. Though Barcelona is his home base, he has also lived and worked in Berlin, Brussels, England (at the invitation of The Henry Moore Foundation), and France (at the invitation of the Atelier Alexander Calder). The winner of many national and international awards, his work is exhibited in major museums and galleries, including the Galérie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris; the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust in Halifax, England; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum der Modernen Kunst, Vienna, and in New York, Chicago and Tokyo. Outdoor and public sculpture is an equally important aspect of Plensa’s output, with numerous installations in North America, Europe, and Asia, including his famed Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park.

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