Friday, June 29, 2012

Jaume Plensa’s, “The Crown Fountain”: breathing neighborly life into the city and viva the façade as computer screen

Jaume Plensa, The Crown Fountain, 1999–2004, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois. Photographs by versluis. Top: tandem photos indicating a south view and directly above is a north view. 

The Crown Fountain in Chicago reminded me of a couple of appropos comments that provide interesting insights to the piece. The first is by Calvin Seerveld, Professor of Aesthetics, Emeritus, Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto. Seerveld has written the following:

A striking example of large-scale stewardship in art patronage is Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain (1999-2004) in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The two, 50-foot high towers of glass on which 1,000 different Chicago inhabitants’ faces are projected every thirteen minutes, smiling, slowly pursing their lips until a stream of water gushes out of their fountain mouths, preside over 2,200 square meters of black granite covered with a thin sheet (3 millimeters) of water. The wealthy Crown family has not sponsored an expensive piece of museum art plunked down somewhere (such as the Picasso and Miro sculptures a few blocks away) but has given a fortune for genuine public artwork that breathes neighborly life into the city—the distinguishing mark of real public artistry. [1]
The second comment is by Zoë Ryan, the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, Department of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago. The following comment written by Ms. Ryan was not directly made about the The Crown Fountain, but her reference to Robert Venturi seems fitting when juxtaposed with Seerveld's comment:
Robert Venturi [has called for the integration of] “iconography and electronics that engage digital media as a significant element in architecture.” and going so far as to proclaim: “Viva the façade as computer screen!”[2]
  1. Seerveld, Calvin. “How Should Christians Be Stewards of Art?, A Response to Nathan Jacobs” Journal of Markets & Morality 12.2 (2009): 377-85. Web. 27 June 2012. Cf. Calvin Seerveld, “Cities as a Place for Public Artwork: A Global Approach,” in Globalization and the Gospel: Probing the Religious Foundations of Globalization, ed. Michael W. Goheen and Erin Glanville. Vancouver: Regent Press and Geneva Society, 2009, 53–80. Print.
  2. Ryan, Zoë, and Joseph Rosa. Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design. New Haven and London: The Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2010. 32. Print. Cf. Venturi, Robert, and Denise Scott Brown. Architecture as Signs and Systems. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004. 94-99. Print.

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