For the Barcelona-born and based sculptor Jaume Plensa, music and literature have proved a lifelong source of inspiration. He recalls vivid childhood memories of listening to his father play the piano, and many of his sculptures are made from metal pieces shaped into letters and characters from the alphabets of different languages. Though related to a series of sculptures depicting seated male figures with their legs tucked up in a pose of rest or contemplation, Silent Music II is distinctive for its explicit reference to music—here a conscious nod to Nashville and its status as “Music City.” First shown at Cheekwood in 2015 as part of a major solo exhibition, Silent Music II uses stainless steel musical notes to create an open, monumental figure that references the universal communication conveyed through music and felt across the human experience. Any specific identifying features are left open to interpretation. The figure is faceless, its body transparent and hollow.
Plensa has become one of the most active and celebrated public sculptors in the world. Perhaps best known in the United States for his monumental Crown Fountain (2004) in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Plensa is internationally recognized for his large-scale figurative sculptures placed in outdoor landscapes or urban settings. Following the exhibition at Cheekwood in 2015, Silent Music II was moved to Riverview Gardens, a collaborative venture between Metro Parks and Cheekwood at Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville. In 2021, the sculpture returned to Cheekwood, re-installed near the entrance to the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail on the institution’s main grounds.
Jaume Plensa (Spanish, b. 1955). Silent Music II, 2013. Stainless steel and stone. In honor of Lisa & David Manning, The Cheekwood Campaign. 2015.2.
© Jaume Plensa, Courtesy Galerie LeLong, New York