Jaume Plensa’s Echo in New York

It takes a lot to stop a New Yorker in his or her tracks, but a massive 44-foot tall human head in the middle of Madison Square Park might just do the trick. From May to mid-September, passers-by are treated to the long-awaited New York public debut of the Spanish artist and sculptor Jaume Plensa.

True to Jaume’s signature clean and contemporary style—which has been exhibited the world over, from Switzerland to Tokyo—the sculpture gives off an almost otherworldly appearance, rising straight up out of the grass. The actual piece is made from a mix of polyester resin, fiber glass, and marble dust.

Although entitled “Echo”, after the Greek mythological nymph who could only utter people’s thoughts, but not her own, the artist says the sculpture’s face was based on a nine-year-old daughter of a restaurant owner near his home in Barcelona.

“Shakespeare is the best definition of sculpture,” said Jaume, quoting from Macbeth. “You are working always with physical elements. You are always touching, touching. But you can’t describe it.”