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Echo

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
© Benjamin Benschneider

Echo

2011

Jaume Plensa

Spanish, born 1955

Jaume Plensa is a Catalan artist who lives and works in Barcelona. He has come to great prominence in the last decade with his monumental figurative outdoor sculptures. Reminiscent of memorial sculpture, Plensa has created seated figures and heads in introspective, meditative states. The winner of many national and international awards, he has realized public installations in London, Paris, Madrid, New York, Chicago, Calgary and Dubai.

Echo was originally commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York and installed at the park to great acclaim. It was modeled on the nine-year-old daughter of the owner of a Chinese restaurant near the artist’s studio. With computer modeling, Plensa elongates and abstracts the girl’s features. The sculpture references Echo, the mountain nymph of Greek mythology. As told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Echo offended the goddess Hera by keeping her engaged in conversation, and preventing her from spying on one of Zeus’s amours. To punish Echo, Hera deprived the nymph of speech, except for the ability to repeat the last words of another. Plensa offers us a monumental head of Echo with eyes closed, seemingly listening or in a state of meditation. Envisioning Echo looking out over Puget Sound in the direction of Mount Olympus (a further reference to Greek mythology that is already embedded in the landscape), Plensa also intends for the sculpture to serve as a gathering point for introspection and contemplation. In our increasingly networked culture where information is endlessly copied and repeated, it is a work that invites viewers to pause.

Polyester resin, marble dust, steel framework
Height: 45 ft. 11 in., footprint at base: 10 ft. 8 in. x 7 ft. 1 in., gross weight: 13,118 lb
Gift of Barney A. Ebsworth
2013.22
Provenance: The artist; [Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago]; Barney A. Ebsworth, Seattle; gift from Mr. Ebsworth to Seattle Art Museum, 2013
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
location
Not currently on view

Media

Resources

Exhibition HistoryPreviously installed at Madison Square Park, New York, 2011
Published ReferencesLilley, Claire, Richard Gray Gallery, Jaume Plensa: Private Dreams, 2014, illus. pg 80-84

Graves, Jen. "The Woman on the Waterfront," in The Stranger, June 4, 2014 (reposted on ewallstreeter.com)

Upchurch, Michael. "The man behind 'Echo' statue in Sculpture Park," in The Seattle Times, May 31, 2014 (reposted on seattle.icito.com and seattle.cityandpress.com)

Reiner, Claire. "'Echo' at the Olympic Sculpture Park," in Vanguard Seattle, May 30, 2014

"Meet 'Echo' at Olympic Sculpture Park," on www.parentmap.com

Davila, Florangela, Joseph Sutton-Holcomb and Nicole Capozziello. "Echo," onThe Weekend List: The arts and culture guide to Seattle's good life, crosscut.com, May 29, 2014

Davis, Melissa. "It's official: 'Echo' joins the sculpture park," on Seattle Times arts page, blogs.seattletimes.com/artspage, May 29, 2014, 12:21 pm (reposted on seattle.icito.com)

Troxel, Michele. ""Echo" The Giant Head," on King5 Evening Magazine, www.king5.com/on-tv/evening-magazine/Echo-The-Giant-Head-260868371.html

Kino, Carol. “Monuments: The Poetry of Dreams,” in The New York Times, May 8, 2011, Arts & Leisure p. 20, illus.

Steiber, Zack. “’Echo’ officially debuts at Madison Square Park,” in Epoch Times, May 5, 2011

“An Unreal Statue Arrives in Madison Square Park,” on WNYC.org, May 2011

“Art Articles Things To Do: Echo extended through Sept. 11,” on Madison Square Park Conservancy, www.madisonsquarepark.org, 2011