Jaume Plensa - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In my work, the letters come out of the earth to construct the human body…Indeed, letters and text are already like a kind of portrait of the human being”
    Jaume Plensa

    Barcelona native Jaume Plensa is renowned for his monumental sculptures and public installations, which are widely exhibited across the globe. Plensa's works examine the complexities of human existence, drawing upon connections between spirituality, the human figure, and language as three guiding principles. His sculptures investigate dualities, both in their physicality and in the intellectual themes they probe – exploring notions of inside versus outside, light versus darkness, and nature versus creation. Standing over seven feet tall and composed of stainless steel letters weaved together in fluid form, Kneeled Shadow, 2008, is an elegant personification of these core ideas. The present lot is an autoportrait cast from the artist’s own body, a recurring motif in Plensa’s oeuvre. In this work, a kneeled figure sits with his hands placed on his thighs, resting atop a large boulder grounded in the surrounding environment. The sculpture exudes a sense of tranquility and peace, as the kneeling pose symbolizes a position of rest, according to the artist.

    Plensa’s sculptures are unique in their remarkable ability to transform the environments which they embody. The present lot invites a dialogue between the sculpture itself and the surrounding landscape as the environment is readily visible through the interlaced, mesh-like letters that comprise the figure. Rather than acting as an obstacle within its setting, the sculpture exists within and transforms the space around it, most notably in the way in which the open and closed form of the letters modulate light and shadow in the surrounding area. Apart from form, the significance of language in Kneeled Shadow cannot be overlooked; as the artist notes, “I dreamed about transforming letters into something physical. In my works, words and letters are lent weight and volume” (Jaume Plensa, quoted in Roberta Kremer, “We, 2008”, Vancouver Biennale Education: Big Ideas, 2010, online). Rather than physical weight, Plensa's words materialize in a physical form with lightness and ephemerality, made possible by the lattice-like configuration of the letters themselves. Kneeled Shadow is a stunning microcosm of the major themes which guide Plensa’s overall practice in which the artist aims to explore dualities both in his work and in human existence at large.


Kneeled Shadow

welded pressed steel and boulder
92 x 59 x 87 in. (233.7 x 149.9 x 221 cm.)
Executed in 2008.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $591,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018