Artwork Detail

Ainsa I
Spanish, b. 1955
Stainless steel and limestone
126 x 84 5/8 x 149 5/8 "
University purchase, Art on Campus fund, Olin Business School, 2014
WU 2014.0005
Made possible through the generosity of Gil and Marty Bickel
The monumental crouching figure “Ainsa I” by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is seated on a boulder of fossilized limestone. The title of this work refers to the stone quarry near the medieval village of Ainsa, Spain, from which the limestone was taken. Now thirty years into his career, Plensa has emerged as one of the most renowned artists worldwide of large-scale public art installations. This sculpture is part of his signature Soul series, which features figures—singular or more—constructed with a filigree of stainless steel letters. The letters in the filigree are taken from nine alphabets: Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Tamil, Cyrillic, Greek, Hindi, and Latin. By using a network of different languages to articulate the human form, the artist points to the multicultural nature of communication and the implicit importance of tolerance in contemporary global citizenship. The crouching figure also recalls art historical precedents, such as Michelangelo’s “Crouching Boy” from the sixteenth century, which has been interpreted as an allegory for the unborn soul and is consistent with the artist’s frequent references to dreams and states of reverie in his artwork. The incomplete delineation of the figure further enhances this, as does the lack of a face, which allows for open-ended identification by the viewer. The artist carefully positions his public works in relationship to their physical and social contexts. Sited on Boles Plaza of the Olin Business School, “Ainsa I” speaks to the dynamic atmosphere of learning, research, and study at the University as well as the diverse international character of its student body. [Art on Campus brochure, 2017]