Marc Quinn

Materialize Dematerialize New Sculptures and Paintings

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Materialize Dematerialize New Sculptures and Paintings

Materialize Dematerialize New Sculptures and Paintings

Press release

Marc Quinn (*1964) is an English artist, whose sculptures and paintings are primarily figurative. Although he has
participated in many exhibitions before 1997, it was the legendary exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy of
Arts London, which many people remember as their first encounter with the art of Marc Quinn. Unforgettable the
work he exhibited: a self-portrait made from several litres of his own blood. The choice of this rather unusual
material for art making not only reflects an experimental approach to art, but also emphasises the conceptual
nature of his oeuvre.
On May 30th, Quinn will have his first solo show at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg. Quinn, who is often
grouped with the YBA's - the Young British Artists - will show a substantial body of new works that are shown
publicly for the first time. What unites the works in the exhibition is that they all deal with notions of abstractions, in
a sense that they contest established conceptions of differences between the virtual and the real.
One of the key works of the exhibition in Salzburg - Mirage - is a life-size bronze figure, referencing an image of
a prisoner of Abu Ghraib, which went through the media around the globe in 2004. It looks like an image of a
veiled Christ, an image of forgiveness as well as a subliminal crucifixion. The fact that the person's head is
covered gives it a kind of mystery. Moreover, for Quinn, Mirage also references Francisco Goya's Disasters of
War. "It has all these references, but at the same time, it is a contemporary image. You have a real moment of
suffering and suddenly it becomes a two-dimensional image; and then, with the sculpture, it is brought back into
three dimensions. This is like turning an image back into an object."
Marc Quinn, Mirage, Bronze, 2009
Also shown for the first time are a series of Eye paintings. Eyes are interesting to Quinn because on the one
hand, they are a person's individual feature, just like a fingerprint; and yet, when enlarged, they become
completely abstract. "So you have this tension of something so concrete and individual and something completely
abstract." A Self-portrait from this group of works will be shown in an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler during
the Art Basel.
Amongst other works, there will be a monumental orchid in bronze from the 'the Evolution of Desire' series and
Twins, a marble sculpture from the series 'Evolution'. The latter is a group of marble sculptures of a foetus as it
develops in the womb. As Jerry Brotton has observed, they bring to mind not only Michelangelo's series of
'Slaves' from the 1520's but also Leonardo's anatomical drawings of foetuses. He explains that "where
Michelangelo's 'Slaves' ask such questions as life drains from the body, Quinn asks them at the point of the
creation and formation of the body, posing a very basic question about how we define what it means to be
human." In an interview with Will Self, Quinn has traced the 'Evolution' works back "to the marble sculptures - like
the one of Alison Lapper - and the idea that they're a celebration of a different kind of body shape, while we are
obsessed with notions of normalcy." Twins developed after, or more precisely out of the series 'Evolution'. Based
on scans of scientific models of embryos, this work looks at the moment of creation. It looks into a body where
other bodies appear. It's about the mystery of creation.
Next to the above mentioned self-portrait made of his own blood, the marble sculpture of Alison Lapper (2004) is
one of Quinn's most well know works, not least because it was exhibited as part of the public art project for the
fourth plinth on London's Trafalgar Square. This portrait of a woman, born without legs and very short arms, is
part of a series of life-size marble portraits of amputees - people who were born without limbs or who had lost
them through accident, war, or illness.
The Kiss is also part of this series. Referencing some of the most well known works in Art History - August
Rodin's and Gustav Klimt's works with the same title - this sculpture will be another highlight in the Salzburg
exhibition. The white marble combined with the fine execution of the sculpture, references idealised
representations of the body of ancient Greece. With these aesthetic means, Quinn lets the unusual proportions of
sitters' bodies no longer appear as disabilities. Much rather, he challenges established conceptions of beauty and
opens up questions such as: what is it that makes an ideal body? To what extent are our conceptions of physical
beauty culturally constructed? "In this series of works", Quinn says, „the sitters are heroes who have conquered
their own interior worlds, and yet disabled people are invisible culturally, in art history. I wanted to celebrate them
and use the medium in its original way as well." In this sense, Quinn's work challenges our conceptions of
normalcy as depicted in art history and beyond, and contributes to an ontology of the body.
Ice, glass, marble and lead are some of the materials he uses for his sculptures. Challenging the boarders
between art and science, Quinn has also experimented with friezing flowers and plants in silicone, so as to
preserve their perfect bloom. In reference to Garden an installation of such frozen flowers Quinn elucidates, "the
plants seem to be in a continuous present but their life is in the past. They have traded biological life for symbolic
immortality." Moreover, he has explored the uses of DNA, making portraits by extracting strands of DNA and
growing them in a test-tube.
Marc Quinn graduated in Art history at Cambridge University in 1985 and lives in London. He has exhibited in
many important group and solo exhibitions internationally including Sonsbeek '93, Arnhem (1993), Give and Take,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2001), Statements 7, 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and Gwangju Biennale
(2004). Solo exhibitions include Tate Gallery, London (1995), Kunstverein Hannover (1999), Fondazione Prada,
Milan (2000), Tate Liverpool (2002), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2004), Groninger Museum, Groningen
(2006) and MACRO, Rome (2006).
Works of Marc Quinn are in many public collections and foundations, among them: Arts Council Collection
(London), British Museum (London), Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York), Deutsche Bank (London), Denver Art
Museum (Denver), Guggenheim Museum (New York), Goss Michael Foundation (Dallas), Marx Collection
(Berlin), Metropolitan Museum (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Prada
Foundation (Milan), Saatchi Gallery (London), Sammlung Essl (Klosterneuburg), Tate Gallery (London).