Plensa is intimately familiar with sculpting the human figure. Working its contours in steel, glass, bronze, marble, and polyester resin, he shapes heads, faces, and bodies, and imbues them with life. “Sculpture is not only talking about volumes. It is talking about something deep inside ourselves that without sculpture we cannot describe,” he once said
. Even when he works abstractly, he often references human beings. For an installation at the BBC Broadcasting House in London in 2005, he crafted Breathing
, a sculpture that projected a beam of light into the sky each night, meant to evoke the breath and spirit of journalists who have lost their lives while reporting. In other pieces, the artist merges abstraction and figuration. For example, his beloved Crown Fountain
(2004) in Chicago’s Millennium Park features two austere monoliths of glass brick that regularly come alive with videos of the faces of the city’s residents inside (they appear and a stream of water spouts out of their mouths, onto a giant reflecting pool where people often linger and play).