Renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa has brought his monumental public sculpture to Rockefeller Center. Plensa is one of 14 international artists displaying their work in the historic New York plaza as part of the inaugural Frieze Sculpture. Intended to open up a new space for discussion about the instability of our time, the event is an extension of Frieze New York. Plensa’s stunning contribution, Behind the Walls, is a nearly 25-foot-tall elongated head of a woman covering her eyes.
The Barcelona-based sculptor is known for his public artwork, which has been installed in cities around the world including Chicago’s Millennium Park, 30 Hudson Yards in New York, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England. Often working with themes of globalization and the human condition, Plensa uses his cast resin sculpture to draw spectators to the area. With a single gesture, his figure both shields herself from the world and attracts them toward her.
“Sometimes, our hands are the biggest walls,” states Plensa. “They can cover our eyes, and we can blind ourselves to so much of what’s happening around us… To me, it’s an obsession to create a beautiful object with a message inside.”
Plensa’s work takes center stage at Rockefeller Center, sitting at the entrance to the promenade which then leads visitors to the remaining sculptures. Though large in scale, Behind the Walls remains intimate and encourages viewers to contemplate their own actions. In an age where humanity often finds itself thinking selfishly without taking the time to look outward, Plensa’s work is a reminder that we need to find balance.
Behind the Walls will remain on view in Rockefeller Center until June 28, 2019 along with sculptures by 13 other international artists. Frieze Sculpture was curated by Brett Littman, director of the Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Long Island.