‘Totem pole’ sculpture by famous Spanish artist inaugurated in Leuven

A large bronze sculpture by the famous Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was inaugurated at the Hertogen site in Leuven today/Wednesday. The ‘totem pole’, made specially for the University of Leuven, displays the distinctive human heads for which Plensa is known. It’s the second part of the artwork ‘The Four Elements’, referring to the four elements fire, air, water and earth.

The Spanish artist Jaume Plensa from Barcelona is known worldwide for his metre-high statues of human heads in amongst others Chicago, New York, Venice and Tokyo. He created the bronze artwork ‘The Four Elements’ specially for the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). The artwork consists of two parts.

The new, second part, refers to the elements ‘Water, Earth, Air’. The three elements are stacked on top of each other and form a kind of totem pole. ​ The artwork has an unstable appearance, on purpose. "It reflects life, which is also sometimes unstable," said Plensa at the inauguration. The artwork is placed at the St-Raphaël Square on the Hertogen site, a new urban site where the university’s faculty of medicine once had its head office.

A first work, called 'Fire' was already inaugurated in February at the KU Leuven’s university library. The choice of location was symbolic, as the university library has gone up in flames twice in the past. The artwork is also a thank-you of the university to the donors who ensured that the library could be rebuilt.

The totem pole is 8.46 metres high and weighs 2,344 kilograms. The 'Fire' artwork has a height of 2.73 metres and a weight of 692 kilograms. The sculptures are both made entirely of bronze.

The works are situated at different locations to emphasise the connection between the city and the university. "The city would not be the same without the university, and the university would not be the same without the city," stated Leuven’s mayor Mohamed Ridouani and KU Leuven rector Luc Sels.

Last summer, there was a major Plensa exhibition in Mons, in Wallonia. More than 350,000 people came to see his art.

#FlandersNewsService | Urbain Vandeurzen, artist Jaume Plensa and KU Leuven rector Luc Sels pictured during the official inauguration of Jaume Plensa's artwork 'The Four Elements' © BELGA PHOTO INE GILLIS
Video shows the official inauguration of artwork 'The Four Elements' at KU Leuven university © ​ BELGA VIDEO INE GILLIS

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About belganewsagency.eu

Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels