International artist Jaume Plensa creates a monumental artwork for Montréal

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For the 375th anniversary of the City of Montréal, internationally known Catalan artist Jaume Plensa will create Source, a work of public art that will be installed at the future Bonaventure gateway to Montréal.

International artist Jaume Plensa creates a monumental artwork for Montréal
North view / © Jaume Plensa and Galerie Lelong

The prestigious Bonaventure gateway to downtown Montréal will be enhanced with a work of public art created by the internationally known artist Jaume Plensa. Montréal will receive this artwork for its 375th anniversary thanks to the contribution of two major patrons, France Chrétien Desmarais and André Desmarais.

This collaboration for a public art project created by an international artist is a first for Montréal. The agreement concluded between the patrons and the City of Montréal provides for the loan of the work of public art Source by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa for a minimum duration of 25 years.

A monumental artwork at a strategic site
Since 2011, like a growing number of large cities, Montréal has undertaken the major project of demolishing an elevated expressway in the heart of the city and replacing it with an urban boulevard, thus reintegrating neighbourhoods that had been enclaved and re-energizing an entire district. Situated at the intersection with Wellington Street, at the southern threshold of the future Robert-Bourassa Boulevard, this artwork will become an important reference point for the city.

International artist Jaume Plensa creates a monumental artwork for Montréal
© Jaume Plensa and Galerie Lelong

The sculpture Source will be about 10 metres in height and will face the city. Currently in the design stage, the work will be inaugurated in September 2017 during the celebrations of the 375th anniversary of Montréal.

“This work will make for a majestic gateway to Montréal’s downtown and contribute to the city’s image,” stated the mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre. “This monumental artwork will brilliantly complement the development of this new stretch of road and create a gateway to downtown that is prestigious, functional, and friendly.”

Source: Roots, energy, and creativity
Jaume Plensa‘s sculptures in public spaces introduce beauty and contemplation into a dense urban landscape. In cities across the globe – from Rio de Janeiro to Bordeaux, New York, Singapore, Paris, Chicago, and Venice – his monumental sculptures connect people across cultures and experiences and lend grandeur to the spaces they inhabit. Plensa notes that his monumental sculptures, like Source, “aim to connect the vibrations of humans with their environments.”

International artist Jaume Plensa creates a monumental artwork for Montréal
Jaume Plensa – Umeå, Sweden, 2012 / © Laura Medina – Plensa Studio Barcelona

In developing Source for Montréal’s 375th anniversary, Plensa was conscious not only of the city’s history as dependent on water for trade, immigration and communication, but also the history of the First Nations as Montréal’s founders. Source, a word identical in both French and English, refers to the origin of a spring, but it may also be understood equally as the root of a city’s energy and vitality: its people and their origins, their fluidity and creativity of ideas, reciprocal cycles of movement and renewal. To Plensa, “Source is talking about our body as a gathering place, as a palace of dreams.” Even more, Source stands an emblem of Montréal’s rich history rooted in the city’s founders, the First Nations.

International artist Jaume Plensa creates a monumental artwork for Montréal
South view / © Jaume Plensa and Galerie Lelong

Source belongs to a family of sculptures, each a figure composed of letters in random arrangement from multiple alphabets including Latin, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, and Cyrillic. These sculptures, variously titled “soul,” “roots,” and “we,” make physical Plensa’s metaphor for language, as well as the poetry of building a single unit from many components: cells make up the body, letters construct words, people form a community. Source is a metaphor for the richness of cultures passing through Montréal in the nearly four centuries since its founding. As a symbol for Montréal of the past, present and future, Source, whether illuminated at night or seen in the day, invites the inhabitants of the city to walk, to dream and to encounter.

Specifications:
Title: Source
Artist: Jaume Plensa
Technical specifications: Approximate height of 10 metres
Site: Future Robert-Bourassa urban boulevard, at Wellington Street (southern threshold), Montréal, Canada
Investment by the City of Montréal: $500,000, for integration of the artwork with the site
Agreement concluded with the patrons: 25-year loan, renewable
Inauguration: September 2017

Jaume Plensa, an artist of international renown
Jaume Plensa creates sculptures and installations that unify individuals through connections of spirituality, the body, and collective memory. Literature, psychology, biology, language, and history have remained key guiding elements throughout Plensa’s career. Using a wide range of materials – including marble, alabaster, steel, cast iron, resin, paraffin wax, glass, light, water, and sound – Plensa lends physical weight and volume to components of the human condition and the ephemeral.Plensa has presented major solo exhibitions at numerous museums and sculpture parks, including the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa; Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona; Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England; Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kunsthalle Mannheim; Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, Valencia; and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

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