Jaume Plensa - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Tel Aviv Man XVI is a superb example of Jaume Plensa’s investigation into the complexities of the human experience. Renowned for his monumental sculptures and public installations, Plensa uses letters to explore communication between individuals and cultures. The striking Tel Aviv Man XVI is a paragon of Plensa’s marriage of letters with the human form. Composed of a “skin” of letters from the Latin alphabet, Plensa’s figure analogizes letters as the fundamental component of language and culture, capable of being infinitely rearranged and recorded to communicate across generations. With its faceless figure, the present work represents both everyone and no one, poetically expressing the universal elements of the human experience.


    “One letter alone is nothing. But together with other letters you get a word. A word with a word becomes a text, and so on. A person alone is nothing, but together with others we become family, a neighborhood, a city, a county, a country.”
    —Jaume Plensa


    Of his work with iron, Plensa has recounted: “I was dreaming about the moment when the mountains were formed, the moment when everything was liquid and hot and suddenly started to cool, solidify, and take shape. For me, there’s a mythical element in the way fire transforms things into liquid. Something solid becomes liquid and then becomes an object again.” Executed in the metal, Tel Aviv Man XVI is paradoxically industrial and ethereal: the elemental metal contrasts with its lattice-like construction. Suspended from a thin wire, the work appears as if floating mid-air in an exquisite, spiritual experience.


    Interview with Jaume Plensa at Museu d’Art Contemporani di Barcelona (MACBA)


    • Provenance

      Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
      Private Collection, Spain
      Private Collection, Miami
      Sotheby's New York, November 18, 2016, lot 462
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Tel Aviv Man XVI

72 x 35 x 43 in. (182.9 x 88.9 x 109.2 cm)
Executed in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $228,600

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023