IN DIALOGUE | Jaume Plensa and Joseph Becherer

Author: Raclin Murphy Museum of Art

On the occasion of his newest sculpture, Endless, 2023 installed at the University of Notre Dame’s Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, Jaume Plensa joins museum director and curator Joe Becherer in dialogue.

Plensa’s Endless is a site-specific work commissioned by the museum and generously funded by the Charles B. Hayes Family.

The thirty-six foot tall sculpture is composed of characters from Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, and Latin alphabets that coalesce to create a tower joining earth and sky. Deeply inspired by his visits to the University of Notre Dame and its mission, Plensa sees the quest for knowledge and truth as a noble, ongoing endeavor across time and around the world (or across chronology and geography). Recalling the power of repetition from antiquity to Postmodernism, Plensa’s Endless stands as not only a monument to but also a celebration of life, or in the artist’s words, “a portrait of humanity in the absence of the human figure.”


Over the past forty years, internationally celebrated Spanish artist Jaume Plensa (b. 1955) has produced a multifaceted body of work that speaks to the capacity and beauty of humanity. Conventional sculptural materials like glass, steel, and bronze blend with unconventional media such as water, light, and sound to create hybrid works of intricate energy, psychological weight, and symbolic richness. Frequently incorporating linguistic elements from different alphabets, Plensa’s work does not contain a specific message, but instead uses language as a metaphor. In addition to his interest in language, Plensa finds inspiration in the human figure as a universal symbol. In celebrating the similarities and shared humanity of the world’s seemingly divergent cultures, the artist seeks to connect with his viewers on an intuitive level. By posing numerous dualities, such as interior and exterior, light and dark, and earth and sky, his works range from intimate, delicate works on paper to monumental public projects, such as the iconic Laura in Century City, Los Angeles.

In addition to his international museum and gallery exhibitions, Plensa has completed celebrated public projects spanning the globe, in such cities as Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Singapore, Seoul, Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai, Tokyo, London, and Nice. Installations of his monumental sculptures include We at the Shard in London, Carlota at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; Behind the Walls at Rockefeller Center, New York City and in the historic courtyard of Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City; Julia in Plaza de Colón in Madrid; Voices at Hudson Yards in New York City; Dreaming in Toronto; and most recently, Water’s Soul on the Hudson River and Utopia at the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Michigan.

Plensa has received many national and international awards, including an honorary doctorate from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 2018 and the 2013 Velazquez Prize awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Venues for his solo museum exhibitions have included Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire, England; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas; MMOMA–Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; MAMC–Musée d’art moderne et contemporain Saint-Étienne Métropole, Saint-Étienne, France; and Max Ernst Museum Brühl des LVR, Brühl, Germany. Jaume Plensa lives and works in Barcelona.