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A line of people walk toward a museum entrance, and a large sculpture of a white head stands tall next to them.
Photo by Mark Gjukich

Jaume Plensa: Behind the Walls

Jaume Plensa
UMMA Exterior

The Future is Female

In this towering sculpture, Spanish artist Jaume Plensa presents a teenage girl shielding her eyes with her hands. The protective gesture evokes different interpretations: is she blocking the world from her view, and thus urging us to recognize our individual responsibility to see what’s around us? Or could she be reminding us of our interior landscape of thoughts and dreams?

Previously installed at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the work is part of a series in which the artist monumentalizes the likenesses of young women in public spaces, calling attention to who is and isn’t represented in large-scale public art. For Plensa, immortalizing a young girl on the precipice of her adult life captures the popular saying that, without doubt, the future is female.

Exhibition Guide

Learn more about artist Jaume Plensa’s life, work, and inspirations for his sculptural practice in this downloadable Gallery Guide. Print version also available for free at UMMA.

Download Guide

Installation Timelapse

Watch as two days of installation work for Behind The Walls takes places over the course of just 44 seconds

Sometimes, our hands are the biggest walls. They can cover our eyes, and we can blind ourselves to so much of what’s happening around us.

Jaume Plensa

About the Artist

Jaume Plensa

Born in 1955 in Barcelona, where he studied at the Llotja School of Art and Design and at the Sant Jordi School of Fine Arts.

Since 1980, the year of his first exhibition in Barcelona, he has lived and worked in Berlin, Brussels, England, France, and the United States. He currently resides and works in Barcelona.

He has been a teacher at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and regularly cooperates with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a guest professor. He has also given many lectures and courses at other universities, museums, and cultural institutions around the world.

Read complete bio


Behind the Walls is a Museum purchase made possible by the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family