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Brilliant Ideas Episode #33: Marc Quinn

Artist who explores beautifulness

<The Architecture of Life> 2013 Bronze 136×235×159cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Modern reinterpretation of esthetics

<Solid, Liquid, Gas(Slow Dissolve)> 2013 Oil on canvas 169×281cm Photo: Todd-White Art Photography courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Saying that he would have never gone into installation art if he was obsessed with selling his works, Marc Quinn always shows shocking moves with unexpected materials and artworks, unlike most of contemporary artists who proposes a subject and leave interpretation to each viewer.

He reinterprets death, disappearance, and beautifulness in a modern manner based on symbols including human lives, wealth and power, and pleasure, presenting boundless variety to add a new page to art history. Brilliant Ideas Episode #33 features Marc Quinn, who creates offbeat artworks bound to arouse misunderstanding between the works and viewers, presented by Bloomberg and Hyundai Motor.

Contemplating the border between life and death

<Self> 2011 Blood(artist's), stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration 208×63×63cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Quinn’s work that imprinted his name on the history of contemporary art, <Self>(1991) was a refreshing shock to the current art scene, created by freezing his own blood. The total amount of blood flowing inside a human is approximately equivalent to the size of one’s head. To gather such amount of blood, Quinn drew his blood on a regular basis for five months. After accumulating 4,500g of blood, he put it in a mold of his own head, froze, and displayed it in a specially-made freezer. The self-portrait made of the living person’s blood is concerned with both survival and death. This artwork can be maintained only by careful temperature adjustment and treatment. When the environment surrounding is changed, the work melts and loses its shape, which reminds us of the fundamental incompleteness of a human body. Through the work, which was made of organic matter but always can be transformed into immaterial liquid, the artist claims that our lives are weak and vulnerable. After presenting his first <Self> in 1991, Quinn has created other versions for every five years to record changes of his appearance. By using human blood, placenta, and cloned DNA, along with animal blood and flesh, and live plants to make sculptures in conventional forms, he expands esthetic paradigm. Exploring creation and distinction through his works, the artist stresses that these two concepts do not conflict at all, but coexist and co-prosper with each other. To him, death and life, and the ugly and the beautiful exist together like both sides of a coin.

<Breath> 2012 Double layer polyester and high capacity air pumps 1,100cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

<Alison Lapper Pregnant>(2000-2012) is one of Quinn’s work focused on maternity and disability. The sculpture of pregnant and disabled Alison Lapper was appreciated as a symbol of beauty of desperation. Through this work, the artist pointed out that disabled people have nothing different with others, which was combined with public empathy to create an esthetic view. Three versions of this work have been presented so far: the 3.55m high version installed at Trafalgar Square in London from 2005 to 2007, the 11m-high version showed at the ‘London 2012 Paralympics’, and the balloon sculpture displayed at his solo exhibition during the ‘Venice Biennale 2013.’ While adding one concept on another to derive them, the artwork sent a clear and positive message regarding life and death, and beautifulness and ugliness to the public.

At the center of art history

<Life Breathes the Breath>(Inspiration) 2012 Bronze 75×70×55cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Having studied art history at collage, Quinn is an artist who values artistic tradition more than anyone else. Focusing on the fact that what we call “art history” today was once contemporary art, and that today’s art will be passed down to next generations, the artist makes ceaseless efforts to pursue new things to deepen the art scene. Most contemporary artworks leave interpretation to public; they could be suggesting a certain context or have no meaning at all according to a viewer. In this aspect, Quinn takes a different road from many other artists. He does not care about any interpretations or quotations viewers have or take regarding his artworks. Rather, he actively draws arbitrary interpretations, considering that an artwork is truly competed when such interpretations fill what the work lacks. Some criticize his ever-innovative artworks for crossing the line; the stimulating reminding he provides through his works throws people living a routine fundamental question about life and death.

<Evolution IX> 2007 Photo: Todd-White Art Photography Artwork ⓒ Marc Quinn studio

A number of torso sculptures of the artist reveal human duplicity or diversity. The body sculptures created with mixture of chemicals and polymer wax represent a positive attitude toward both life and death, presenting a wide spectrum of imagination. Through various attempts, the artist embraces different forms of beings and turns them into art pieces, completing his search for truth of the world and all beings through his creative activities. In other works such as <Lucas>(2001), which was created by forming the head of his newborn son with placenta and freezing it, or <Angel>(2006), a sculpture of a skeleton of a 22 week-old baby praying, the artist tells his stories at the center of life and death, and everyday lives and noble ideals.
Refusing to be typical, Quinn’s artworks shocks people with unexpected and not quite beautiful images. However, as reminding us that our life and death is not always pretty, he questions human lives and sends messages through his artworks. Beyond the conventional material use and creating methods, Quinn continues to face prejudice against life, while opening a new chapter in art. ■ with ARTINPOST

  • <Matter into Light: On the Transformation of Energy> 2011

    Sculpture Heat treated cobalt-plated bronze, concrete, stainless steel, cement board, ceramic and bioethanol liquid 181.5×151×151cm
    Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <Matter into Light: On the Transformation of Energy> 2011 Sculpture Heat treated cobalt-plated bronze, concrete, stainless steel, cement board, ceramic and bioethanol liquid 181.5×151×151cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
  • <Life Breathes the Breath>(Inspiration) 2012

    Bronze 75×70×55cm
    Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <Life Breathes the Breath>(Inspiration) 2012 Bronze 75×70×55cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
  • <Breath> 2012

    Double layer polyester and high capacity air pumps 1,100cm
    Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <Breath> 2012 Double layer polyester and high capacity air pumps 1,100cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
  • <Self> 2011

    Blood(artist's), stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration 208×63×63cm
    Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <Self> 2011 Blood(artist's), stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration 208×63×63cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
  • <The Architecture of Life> 2013

    Bronze 136×235×159cm
    Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <The Architecture of Life> 2013 Bronze 136×235×159cm Photo courtesy of Marc Quinn studio
  • <Evolution IX> 2007

    Photo: Todd-White Art Photography Artwork ⓒ Marc Quinn studio

    <Evolution IX> 2007 Photo: Todd-White Art Photography Artwork ⓒ Marc Quinn studio
  • <Solid, Liquid, Gas(Slow Dissolve)> 2013

    Oil on canvas 169×281cm
    Photo: Todd-White Art Photography courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

    <Solid, Liquid, Gas(Slow Dissolve)> 2013 Oil on canvas 169×281cm Photo: Todd-White Art Photography courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Profile

Marc Quinn

Photo: Marc Quinn Studio

Born in London, England in 1964, Marc Quinn was just an ordinary student who studied history of art at University of Cambridge. However, he emerged to be a promising artist of yBa(young British artists) at a bound with <Self>(1991), in which he made a head with his own blood. Marc Quinn tried to look into the life and death of humans and the spirit that forms the human life through this piece. He still explores human life and materiality and immateriality of objects.
Quinn, who has had numerous solo exhibitions at museums such as Tate Gallery, Fondazione Prada and the Irish Museum of Modern Art and group shows at Victoria and Albert Museum and ‘Gwangju Biennale’, is still active as an artist, representing the contemporary art of Britain.

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