TAMPA — The monumental sculptures by Jaume Plensa on view at the Tampa Museum of Art have been a big hit, especially those that sit on the grounds outside the building overlooking Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. They will depart on May 15 when the exhibition ends. But one, museum leaders hope, will become a permanent resident.
The museum plans to purchase Laura With Bun, a cast-iron sculpture soaring 23 feet into the air and weighing more than 18,000 pounds. It presents a striking image of a young woman, stylized almost to flatness when viewed from certain angles, that greets visitors as they walk from the parking garage to the museum. It is one of the most serene works in "Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape," a contemplative portrait that reduces the woman's features to minimal suggestions.
Plensa, 61, is a Spanish artist who has gained international success with his large figurative sculptures, often made of metal and imbued with philosophical questions such as the duality between our spiritual and physical selves. His most famous work in the United States is Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park, installed in 2004. Two glass brick towers rise 50 feet in a granite reflecting pool on which projections of Chicago residents constantly rotate. When their mouths purse, a cascade of water appears to spill out.
The museum declined to give the purchase price because, representative Nancy Kipnis said, it was negotiated to make it affordable for the museum. But as a comparison, another monumental figurative sculpture, 44 feet tall, was purchased by New York's Madison Square Park Conservancy for more than $600,000.
Major donors already have lined up, and include Celia and Jim Ferman, Penny and Jeff Vinik and the Williams family. Kipnis also said the total dollars raised weren't being released, but that the museum still needed about $45,000 to complete the fundraising.
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