From 1980 with his first exhibition in Barcelona until today, he has lived and worked in Berlin, Brussels, England, France, USA, and he currently shares his residence between Paris and Barcelona. He has been a teacher at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris and has also been a lecturer at many universities and art institutions. He collaborates as professor invited at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since 1992 he has obtained various distinctions and awards, both national and international, notably his investiture as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture (1993), the National Award for Plastic Arts – National Culture Awards of the Government of Catalonia 1997 (Barcelona, 1997), Honorary Doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, USA, 2005), and most recently the 2009 Mash Award for Public Sculpture (London, 2009). His sculptural work has gone through several stages developed largely with recuperation materials, iron, bronze, cooper, … In 1986, he started a series of cast iron sculptures, then he incorporated light and relief written text. Recently his melting materials have been synthetic resin, glass, alabaster, plastic, light, video and sound. He also has a large production of works on paper and etchings. Beside his sculptural oeuvre he is collaborating often working on stage design and costumes for opera and theatre productions.
A significant part of Plensa’s production is set in the context of public sculpture, a sphere in which he has works installed in Spain, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Korea, Germany, Canada, the USA, etc. The Crown Fountain, in Chicago’s Millennium Park, is one of his latest project, and undoubtedly one of his most brilliant. In 2005 he finished Breathing, which is installed in the new BBC building in London, in 2007 Conversation à Nice for the place Masséna in Nice, (France), El Alma del Ebro for the Expo Zaragoza 2008, in Zaragoza, (Spain) and in 2009 Dream for St Helens, Liverpool, (UK) and World Voices in Dubai (UAE),Ogijima’s Soul in Ogijima, Japan, Awilda in Salzburg, Austria,Tolerance, for the city of Houston (USA), and Echo for Madison Square Park, New York. He is currently working on several new projects as Wishing Well for The Bow-Calgary, Canada, Mirror, for Rice University, Houston (USA), and Seoul Close up for Seul, Korea. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in Europe, the United States and Japan: Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (Spain); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (France); Henry Moore Sculpture Trust, Halifax (United Kingdom); Malmö Konsthall, Malmö (Sweden); Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim (Germany); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyons (France); Museo Luigi Pecci, Prato (Italy); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (Germany); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (Austria); Palacio de Velázquez – Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; BALTIC The Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (United Kingdom); the Arts Club Center for Contemporary Art, Chicago (USA); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen (France); Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg (Germany), Kunsthalle Mannheim Museum (Germany), Centro de Arte Contempoáneo, (Malaga); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Nice (France); IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, (Spain); The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan, (USA), The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, (USA); Picasso Museum, Antibes (France), The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (United Kingdom), etc.
As for Plensa’s upcoming personal exhibitions, Oir Río, other ideas for Río, Río de Janeiro, Brasil, and the one being prepared for EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoon Kaupunk, Finland, in 2012. He regularly shows his art works at Galerie Lelong in Paris, Galerie Lelong, New York and Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago and New York.