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In Madison Square Park, Jaume Plensa's ECHO

A particularly strong season of public art in New York continues this week. CIRCLE OF ANIMALS/ZODIAC HEADS by detained Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei was unveiled yesterday at the Pulitzer Fountain near The Plaza, W. 59th St. and Fifth Avenue. Also this week, Mad. Sq. Art brings to Madison Square Park (between Fifth Ave. & Madison Ave. and from E. 23rd St. to E. 26th St.) the totemic spectacle of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's ECHO, an impressive sleek marble-dusted girl's head situated at the center of the oval lawn of Madison Square Park. On this particularly brilliant spring day, many visitors to the park, especially young ones, played around the head like it was a Maypole. Others seemed to enjoy snapping photos of their friends with the 44-foot high sculpture.

Jaume Plensa ECHO
Jaume Plensa, ECHO, Madison Square Park

ECHO marks the first public work in New York by the Barcelona-based artist. According to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, Plensa's sculpture is the largest monolithic work thus far presented by Mad. Sq. Art.

The sculpture depicts a particular young girl from the artist's neighborhood, but it's also universally inspired by the Greek mythology of Echo, the chatty girl who was spurned by Narcissus and then left with only the sound of her own voice. In the sculpture's depiction, her eyes are closed, and her mouth is shut, as if caught in a dream or moment of thought.

Jaume Plensa ECHO
Jaume Plensa, ECHO, Madison Square Park. Facing the Flatiron Building (right).

As a site-specific monumental work, ECHO is surrounded by New York's own site-specific monolithic monuments - the Empire State Building to the north, the Flatiron to the south, and the Met Life Tower, the Appellate Division Courthouse, and the New York Life Building to the east. Sometimes, it takes a big head to compete with the likes of these mythic giants.

Adding to the sight of ECHO, some of the city's best food establishments, including Eataly, Momofuku Milk Bar, Asia Dog, Bar Suzette, Piccolo Cafe, Sigmund Pretzelshop, Resto, Nunu Chocolates, and Calexico, among others, have set up booths or carts at the edge of Madison Square Park, offering food daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, May 6 - June 3.

Mad Sq Eats
Mad Sq. EATS

Catch ECHO before the tulips fade.

Madison Square Park, tulips
tulips in bloom, Madison Square Park

ECHO by Jaume Plensa (b. 1955), Mad. Sq. Art 2011, Extended through September 11, 2011, Madison Square Park

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from May 6, 2011.


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