Jaume Plensa - 20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | Phillips

Create your first list.

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

  • Provenance

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Dallas, Nasher Sculpture Center, Genus and Species, January 30 - May 2, 2010, p. 93 (illustrated, pp. 57-59, 61)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Towering over viewers with a striking presence, Twins I and II, 2009, is exemplary of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s text-based sculptures that wholly transform the environments they inhabit. A testament to its significance within the artist’s illustrious oeuvre, the present work was selected as a cornerstone of Plensa’s solo exhibition Genus and Species at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas in 2010. Exquisitely woven from symbols that fuse together in an alphabetical chainmail, Twins I and II explores notions of interior versus exterior, light versus dark, and nature versus creation. It is a stunning microcosm of the major themes that guide Plensa’s sculptural practice, and his ideas about human existence at large.

    In Twins I and II, two seated figures face one another, arms clasped around their bodies in meditative postures. Autoportraits cast from the artist’s own body, the forms suggest a sense of tranquility and peace, as the kneeling poses symbolize a position of rest. Despite its striking originality, the present work shares much thematically with classical sculpture in its concern with aesthetic beauty and earnest expression of the human soul.

    While Plensa’s early text-based sculptures were often calibrated in recognizable fragments of texts, his more recent works have become increasingly abstract, as the artist culls together characters from diverse lexicons to suggest the rich multiculturalism of contemporary society. Composed of linguistic elements from nine different alphabets, the figures materialize in a physical form with lightness and ephemerality, made possible by the lattice-like configuration of the letters themselves. A celebration of cultural diversity, Plensa’s works connect audiences around the globe. “One letter alone is nothing," he explains. “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, quoted in Ginny Van Alyea, “An Interview with Artist Jaume Plensa”, Chicago Gallery News, November 8, 2017, online).

    In Twins I and II, Plensa purposefully omits the figures’ facial features, hands and feet. Stripped of individuality, the forms are simultaneously everyone and no one, mirrors through which we can begin to ponder our own circumstance. This duality between the ethereal nature of the forms and the strength of the steel from which they were borne lends an almost philosophical quality to the work. Ultimately, Twins I and II is both vulnerable and strong—one of the paradoxes of the human condition.


Twins I and II

painted stainless steel, in 2 parts
each 148 3/8 x 92 1/2 x 96 1/2 in. (376.9 x 235 x 245.1 cm.)
Executed in 2009.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $1,130,000

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

20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 13 November 2019