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Jaume Plensa (Spanish, b. 1955, pronounced ZHOW-meh) is one of the world’s foremost living sculptors. He is widely known for large-scale public artworks and more intimate and meditative installations that aim to unify people through connections of spirituality, the body, and shared memory.

Talking Continents is a floating collection of 19 cloud-like, stainless steel sculptures. Their biomorphic forms are made of die-cut letters taken from nine different languages. Presented together, they refuse to come together as words, existing instead as abstract forms, arbitrary signs, and signifiers. As such, each sculpture embodies a dissolution of meaning or breakdown in communication. At the same time, the letters comprising the works are also the components needed to reconstruct words and create meaning—the building blocks for cultural understanding. A firm believer that art has the capacity to transform our lives, Plensa has stated that Talking Continents represents the concept of globalism without judgment.

Many of the suspended sculptures appear as orbs, islands, and continents: The human figures seated atop five of the largest floating spheres become a poetic vision of the world’s five most populated continents in conversation with one another.

Jaume Plensa's artwork Laura II
Jaume Plensa, Laura II, 2013, alabaster, 65 3/8 x 24 x 27 1/8 inches, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, & Co., © Jaume Plensa

In addition to Talking Continents, Telfair Museums presents a gallery spotlighting Plensa’s stone sculpture and drawing practice, exploring perspective and illusion through the flattening of form, a concept Plensa began to play with in 2013.

Standing 6 feet tall, the alabaster sculpture Laura II (2013) emerges from stone as Plensa keeps sections of the material in its natural, unfinished state, and the work shifts from realism to flattened relief depending on the viewing angle. In the selected Slumberland portraits, the subjects have their eyes closed—Plensa’s conceptual metaphor for dreaming. Installed as a group, imposing yet peaceful, the works create a meditative, spiritual space.

Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents is organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The presentation of this exhibition at Telfair Museums is curated by Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Photo of the artist Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa, Galerie Lelong, & Co. © Jaume Plensa

About the artist:

Jaume Plensa was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1955, where he currently lives and works. Plensa’s large-scale works are installed in public spaces and sculpture gardens worldwide, from Chicago’s Millennium Park to Japan’s Ogijima Island. The artist has presented solo exhibitions at institutions around the globe including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole, Saint-Étienne, France; the Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, Spain; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas; Musée Picasso, France; and Max Ernst Museum, Germany, among many others.

Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, the most comprehensive exhibition of Plensa’s work in the United States, was jointly organized in 2015 by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art and traveled to the Tampa Museum of Art and Toledo Museum of Art.

Related to this exhibition

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Event

College Night

March 30 at 5pm8pm Jepson Center
For one night only, the Jepson Center is open after hours exclusively for college students to explore our latest exhibitions, create in our studios, and interact with art-minded peers.
Event

Art Start: Talking Continents

March 21 at 10:30am Jepson Center
Start your day with art with our new and combined programs! Once a month, our youngest patrons are invited to the Jepson Center for story time, a special tour, and an art activity. Strollers, crying babies, toddlers, and older siblings are all welcome here.
Event

Sunday Curator’s Tour: Talking Continents

May 19 at 3pm4:30pm Jepson Center
Join speaker Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for a tour of the exhibition Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents.
Event

College Night

March 30 at 5pm8pm Jepson Center
For one night only, the Jepson Center is open after hours exclusively for college students to explore our latest exhibitions, create in our studios, and interact with art-minded peers.
Event

Art Start: Talking Continents

March 21 at 10:30am Jepson Center
Start your day with art with our new and combined programs! Once a month, our youngest patrons are invited to the Jepson Center for story time, a special tour, and an art activity. Strollers, crying babies, toddlers, and older siblings are all welcome here.
Event

Sunday Curator’s Tour: Talking Continents

May 19 at 3pm4:30pm Jepson Center
Join speaker Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for a tour of the exhibition Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents.