Jaume Plensa Sculpture Will Light Up

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Jaume Plensa Sculpture Will Light Up
Jaume Plensa, Tattoo.

DURHAM, NC.- A 9-foot-tall glowing sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa will be installed on Duke University’s new West Campus Plaza, Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta announced Tuesday. Plensa’s 2003 sculpture “Tattoo” is a kneeling human figure made of polyester resin and stainless steel that glows in different colors that dim and brighten. The figure is “tattooed” with simple questions inspired by a children’s geography book: “What is ice? What is a river? What is a mountain?” “Tattoo” is the first in a series of sculptures, each inscribed with words evoking various subjects.

The outdoor sculpture weighs about 100 pounds and runs on standard 110-watt power. The work is a loan to Duke by the Crown Family of Chicago. Duke's Nasher Museum of Art consulted with Chicago art collector and university trustee Paula Crown to suggest a suitable campus location for the sculpture. “Tattoo” will be installed in the next few weeks and will be on view through May 2007.

“This is a monumental work by an important contemporary artist,” said Kimerly Rorschach, the Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “The sculpture is visually arresting and thought-provoking and will enhance the outdoor plaza space in a very exciting way.”

Plensa, born in Barcelona in 1955, has won national and international awards and his work is exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The artist is perhaps best known for his 2004 work, the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park in Chicago, which consists of two 50-foot glass block towers -- each projecting video images of Chicago citizens –- at either end of a shallow reflecting pool.

More recently, Plensa designed a sculpture that was planned for Raleigh, N.C. In September, however, the Raleigh City Council rejected the design, a canopy of flashing lights and misting water.

“We are thrilled to install the first of what we hope to be many diverse works of art on the plaza,” Moneta said. “The use of outdoor sculpture in this high-traffic space will undoubtedly engage students and visitors alike.”

The plaza, which opened in August, is a gathering place for the Duke community and campus visitors. Envisioned as the “living room” of West Campus, it connects the complex of buildings that together make up the Student Center: the Bryan Center, West Union, Flowers and Page, all of which open onto the plaza. The plaza features both fixed and moveable furniture, a main stage for the arts, performance space and dining areas.

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